Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday 55

It's Friday.  I remembered what to do to make the G-Man happy.  Oh sure, I had to use the laptop as the new computer and I are trying to learn to speak the same language.  In the meantime, if you're not experiencing technical difficulties and decided to write a 55 word story, make sure you tell the g-man.

The car ahead slammed on brakes.
The second driver grimaced.
Sudden stops were too frequent here.

The first driver gaped at the roadside tribute.
Flowers.  Stuffed animals. Lights.  Flags.  Windmills.
The shrine to a dead driver was now a circus sideshow.

How long, wondered the second driver,
until a parent's loving tribute accidently killed someone?

NOTE: I understand we all grieve differently.  And although I don't have children, I can't think of anything worse than losing a child. The gaudy display above is, in fact, real.  The driver was an 18 year old girl who ran a stop sign into a ditch bank.  A couple of weeks after she died, a visually overwhelming tribute, complete with a light at night, marked the spot where her life was snuffed out.  Not by another driver, as this was a single car accident.  Sadly it was the result of youthful foolishness combined with nighttime and speed. I hoped as time healed, it would fade away.                                                

It's been two or three years now...and it just keeps growing.

Personally, I'm opposed to the slew of road side "memorials" which have become fashionable.  Marking the spot where a loved one breathed their last just seems morbid to me...especially on property which doesn't belong to that family.  No, I'm not being cold or callous.  I know that sudden, kicked-in-the-gut loss which comes out of nowhere.  But I didn't feel a need to go plant a cross in the field where my father-in-law's helicopter suddenly fell out of the sky and killed him. There are other ways to honor him.  Other memorials that could help someone else, given in his name.   

I worry that the majority of these tributes (at least here) pose a danger to highway crews who have to mow and maintain the roadways.  Not all sites are maintained for long.  I'm guessing running over a wooden cross with a large mower can't be safe for the worker or any car driving past at the time.  The site above scares me due to the sheer number of times it catches the eye of someone who's never seen it before...and just slams on brakes to sit and look.  I KNOW to anticipate it before I get there, especially since it's the turn on my way home. But what if the "second driver" isn't me?  What if someone minding their own business, driving responsibly, sudden finds themselves rear ending a vehicle because all the flapping, whirling, twirling color made the driver in front come to a complete, unexpected stop?

What if this display causes a horrible accident?  What if someone dies?  Again.  Will the parents be filled with grief again? Or guilt?  What good can come of this?

Last week, due to road construction,  I had to take a different route.  On a familiar spot on my drive I noticed a new road sign in the distance.  Although official looking, it was blue in color, which indicates the highway department did not place it.  And yet it was placed just like the speed limit and "curve" signs.  Just another traffic sign.  Until I got up to it.

Diamond shaped, the white letters simple stated, "Drive Safely".  Beneath it was a small box which read, "In Memory of----", with date of birth/death. 

THAT sign will stay with me.  It wasn't flashy.  It wasn't a hazard.  It made a difference.  DRIVE SAFELY.

To that driver's family, I say "Thank you!"


savannah said...

i agree with you, sugar. it seems that many local governments are starting to recognize the danger of these tributes and removing them almost immediately when they are on public property. we all grieve differently, i know, but as a mother of 4, for me, i wouldn't need a public marker, i would always know. xoxoxox

Ponita in Real Life said...

Yes, I know that feeling all too well also. My sister was killed by another vehicle. There is no marker at the side of the road. Instead, there is a bursary program set up at the university in her honour, to assist young single mothers entering the education program.

I like that blue sign. That is definitely a much better way to go if the family feels an overwhelming urge to be remind everyone that a someone who was loved died in that spot on the road.

But like you and Savannah both said, I know where my sister died. I don't need a reminder. She is in my heart everyday.

Anonymous said...

A very poignant 55 I must say. Those memorials are all over the place here and have been for years. After a while they become oldvand not very good looking. But I feel that if family and friends want to do it let it be. We all grieve in different ways and remember out loved ones any way we can. I guess it just doesn't bother me to see them.

hope said...

Sav: thanks for reading this in the spirit in which it was intended.

Ponita: I'm truly sorry for your loss. I'm also glad you found a positive way to remember your sister.

Thom:it's not so much that it bothers me to see them as they've become a new hazard: an accident waiting to happen. I can only hope grief is clouding these families' judgments. Why would you want to place a marker that might get someone else killed? True, everyone grieves differently.

Brian Miller said...

i think a small one tastefully done is ok...when it becomes a hazard itself it is defeating the awareness and rememberance purposes...

Monkey Man said...

I hear ya and have had the same feelings. "Move along, people. Move along."

Titus said...

They are becoming more and more common over here too. It does seem bizarre to me to make a memorial place of the spot someone died in a car accident. Flowers in the first week if one is so minded, but nothing after. In my mind a graveside is the place one mourns someone, or if cremation the place the ashes were scattered.
My father was killed in a car accident, and it hasn't occurred to me, or any family members, to go and fetishize the location on the M20 where it happened.

Changing the subject a little, there was a very newsworthy murder of a young woman in Bristol (England) just around New Year, and the coverage of the 'hunt for the killer' continued for close-on ten days. One major evening news item was the family visiting the location the body was found. I found this quite macabre, and wondered who had suggested it, and agreed the decision for the media to film it.
Possibly a change in attitudes to death, and particularly violent death, and in grieving patterns too?

Belinda Munoz said...

This is so sad.

All that stuff sounds incredibly distracting to drivers. There's gotta be zoning laws that town politicians could put in place.

hope said...

Brian: it's the ones which are an accident waiting to happen that scare me.

Monkey Man: thanks for understanding.

Titus: I sometimes wonder if I'm just becoming a dinosaur...some "new" rituals are just to weird to me. Sorry to hear you lost your Dad that way. :(

Belinda: I think someone tried to get a law passed but it was an election year and he didn't get many people to agree, so he dropped the idea. Too bad.

G-Man said...

I hear ya Hope.
I do agree.
You almost hate to admit it publicly though.
Excellent 55 My Friend
Thanks for playing, and have a Kick Ass Week-End

Jingle said...

amazing 55.
Bless your weekend.

Leo said...

One death is already a tragedy, and for the memorial to cause another tragedy would be sad, even for the soul that has passed on! I can understand the second driver's worry!