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Graduates, don’t waste your lives

June 26, 2015
Editorial , Lake Placid News

There's a 73-year-old man sitting in a jail cell in California. He hasn't seen his two kids in 25 years. For them, June 21 was another Father's Day without a father.

This dad has made plenty of mistakes in his life, one big enough to land him in a state-operated "group home" for the past three-and-a-half years, shut out from society, never to see freedom - and possibly his kids - ever again.

Spending three decades caring for patients as a nurse, he saw the worst situations life had to offer in sickness, and he saw the best of life in the healing process. Trying to recover from a broken childhood, he dedicated his life to helping strangers, but he found it impossible to care for the people closest to him.

For his family, he's left a life's worth of pain in his wake. Now it seems too late for closure. There's only silence.

This wasn't the retirement plan. To say the California dream turned sour is an understatement. Scenes of spending his final years in Mexico or Italy got him through the rough times, but the hope of escaping the drudgeries of life in a far-off land has long since vanished. What hopes can he cling to now in prison?

It's a waste of a life.

Perhaps if he had a better childhood, things would have turned out differently. Perhaps if he remained faithful to his family in the Adirondacks instead of running away to a different time zone, he'd be a richer man. Perhaps if he had better guidance, he'd still have his freedom.

In the end, he owns his choices. For better or for worse, he takes full responsibility for his actions, maybe not to those around him, but to himself and his creator. Honesty is there somewhere in the darkness, accompanied by tears, regret and the demons that continue to haunt him.

Life is full of choices. Once the high school graduation ceremonies are over, it's time for the young men and women of our society to choose their own paths. They must take responsibility for their actions and realize that their choices affect other people's lives.

Another man, 21 years of age, is at a crossroads. Three years after graduation in Saranac Lake, he barely escaped death recently, driving drunk and crashing his truck. He left a lot of pain in his wake, and his father was lucky to spend another Father's Day with his only child.

It was almost a waste of a life.

The driver could have killed himself and others, but he survived. Now he has a criminal record and is recovering from his injuries. With a totaled vehicle and a pile of hospital and attorney bills in his near future, it was an expensive mistake. And no matter the circumstances of that evening - the events leading to the crash - he owns that choice to drive home drunk.

Now it's time to move on. Let's hope he can heal - physically, emotionally and spiritually - and turn this unfortunate incident into a life lesson. Let's hope it will bring the family closer together instead of tearing it apart. For this young man - a good, hard-working man - there is still plenty of hope, there are still plenty of choices to be made, and there is still plenty of life to be lived. The people around him love him very much.

We all make mistakes. Learn from them, graduates. Try not to pass your pain on to others. Your parents gave you the most precious gift: life. For their sake and for yours, don't waste it.



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