The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

September 10, 2012

Life is a fragile thing

The Daily Southerner
John H. Walker

TARBORO — Two stories in today’s edition remind us just how fragile life is ... the one about the 18-year-old drowning while on a family outing along the Tar River and the other, about a state trooper with Tarboro and Edgecombe County ties who was killed in the line of duty Saturday morning.

I’ve often joked that when it’s time, it’s time — but that I don’t want to be on the plane when it’s the pilot’s time.

But there is nothing funny about the reality of death, even for those who deal with it all the time.

Kevin Jaimes was out to have fun with his family ... the weather had been hot and the water of the Tar River, especially with a sand bar in clear sight, seemed to lend itself to cooling off and relaxing.

The outing turned into anything but for Jaimes and his family — and for emergency responders who took to the muddy, debris-filled river in search of the young man.

It is bad enough to know a life has been lost, but think about the family members who watched him struggle for life and the emergency personnel, who had arrived in time to see him come up for air one last time, yet had no chance to save his life.

West of Rocky Mount, near the Spring Hope exit, Trooper Bobby Demuth, a 1988 graduate of Tarboro High School and former Edgecombe County deputy, was struck and killed by a fleeing felon as he attempted to place stop sticks on U.S. 64.

Demuth, like all law enforcement officers, had to have understood the dangers inherent to his public service, yet he put on his uniform on a daily basis and took to the roads to protect and serve the public.

Just like Jaimes, Demuth leaves family and friends to remember him and to wonder why.

And it seems that despite the fact the Lord teaches us it is not our role to ask why things happen, we take it upon ourselves as part of the human psyche ... after all, don’t we have to have an explanation for everything that happens?

We visited with recently retired Tarboro fire chief Billy Whitaker the other day and he said it’s hard to keep the adrenaline from rushing when he hears a siren.

He laughed about it as he said he had to remember it wasn’t his job any more.

But regardless of our standing in life ... whether we work for hourly wages, are retired, wealthy or struggling to keep our heads above water ... the fragile nature of life and the manner in which it can be snatched from us in a heartbeat should serve as a reminder to savor every moment life has to offer.

As you walk down the sidewalks of life, remember to give smiles away freely, open doors for others, speak to everyone you see and help those less fortunate ... after all, smiles are free, opening doors is good exercise, a kind word is music to another’s ear and, but for the grace of God, you could be the one deemed less-fortunate.

•     •     •

Despite the fact I love bluegrass music, Stephanie and I got up early Saturday — okay, Bridget got us up early Saturday — and we got the gear together and drove to Nags Head.

As some of you may know, Bridget is our 5-year-old shelter Lab who puts smiles on our faces daily, even when she walks us up at 4 a.m. for scratches!

We had taken her to Lake Pontchartrain a couple of times and to local creeks when we were still in Louisiana and to the Tar River over in Rocky Mount, but the beach and ocean was something entirely new for her.

And I have to admit that she and Stephanie handled her in the surf — especially with th dangerous current flags — than I must admit I did.

But all’s well that ends well and this trip ended just that way ... with Bridget snoring well into the night!

(John H. Walker is editor and publisher of The Daily Southerner and may be reached at 823-3106 or jwalker@dailysoutherner.com.)