All those people in airports. All those people who say they are “over” the pandemic and are just going to go about their business and visit their families without first testing or quarantining. They need to think again because, as Terrie learned, the worst thing can happen to any of us.
It’s not “out there”
by Terrie Turner, Palm Springs-Palm Desert area, California
As my brother and I were making funeral arrangements for our father, I remembered the phrase my dad said to me every time I left his house, “Don’t forget, Terrie. Drunk Drivers Go to Jail.” I am sure that for many years I obeyed just because I didn’t want to get in trouble with him—my dad was kind of tough and I did my best not to disappoint him. This teaching, as well as so many other lessons my dad imparted to me, have remained a huge part of my life.
At 3 a.m. on March 23, 1990, I was awakened by a phone call. It was my cousin, making one of the hardest calls anyone can ever have to make. “Your parents were in an accident,” she said. “Your dad didn’t make it. Your mother was admitted to the trauma center. They’re still not sure she’ll live.”
The headline in the Las Vegas Review-Journal two days later read, Elderly man killed in traffic accident. My parents had been driving home on Flamingo Road when a drunk driver—going approximately 85 miles an hour—crossed the center median and hit them head on. The driver received only minor injuries. He was arrested on felony charges for driving intoxicated and causing substantial bodily harm, as well as driving with a revoked license.
My dad was very careful and methodical behind the wheel, and he never drank and drove, which makes it even more painfully ironic that a drunk driver took his life. To add to that irony, twenty years prior to my dad’s death, his brother had also been killed by a drunk driver. I expressed to the court system during the perpetrator’s trial that his conviction was crucial, not only to prevent someone else from being killed by this known drunk driver who had eight prior convictions, but to also set an example for young drivers that it is a serious offense with severe punishment and consequences. To not give this person the maximum sentence would be invalidating the lessons I had learned from my father—which I now know is one of the most important parts of parenting.
The untimely, sudden death of my dad changed my whole family’s life. Despite her injuries, my mom fortunately survived and I quit my job to fly back and forth to Las Vegas to help her while my mother- and father-in-law helped take care of our daughter. We were all traumatized. My brother and I dealt with our feelings of loss, as well as the sadness experienced by grandchildren when they lose their grandpa. My daughter was three years old and has very little memory of Grandpa Marty. I thought the pain in my heart would never go away—and it really never has.
Why am I telling you my story? Because it feels so important to me now to share the message it contains. Bad things don’t happen only on TV, in the newspaper, or to other people. They can impact our own lives and families. Our actions, or inactions, can cause severe pain and suffering for others.
Please follow the CDC guidelines; please follow Dr. Fauci’s recommendations; and please follow the new administration’s directions. Don’t think it cannot happen to you or your loved ones. It can. Laws, rules and guidelines are not made to control you or take away your rights—they are there so you don’t become a statistic, or cause someone else to become one either.