Have you ever wondered how you would react in the face of personal tragedy? I have. When I read about tragedies in the paper or hear about them on the news, I find myself wondering “What if..?” Fortunately, I have never found out. Soon the business of the day drowns out my musings, and I return to the business at hand. However, the closer to home the tragedy is, the more difficult it is to dismiss.
Just before the start of this past summer quarter, my friend Bruce Arnold lost his 18 year old son Tyler in a motorcycle accident. Tyler was preparing to study air conditioning at Athens Tech and study with his dad. Bruce works in the field and takes classes in the evening. Bruce was so excited about his son going to school to study the trade he practices.
Only a parent can truly understand the feelings parents have for their children. You really cannot fathom how much you have been loved or how much of themselves your parents invest in you until you are a parent. When you are a teenager your parents unending questions about where you are going, what you are doing, and who you are going to be with are an incredible annoyance. Their interest in every detail of your mundane school day is perplexing. The reason is simple: parents have more interest in your safety and success than you do.
Nobody celebrates your victories and accomplishments more than your parents. I have been teaching longer than most of my students have been alive, and I know that my mother is still my biggest booster. I have a 20 year old daughter and a 15 year old son, and I know I get far more excited about their accomplishments than my own. That is why I know there can be no greater pain than losing a child. Truthfully, I hope I never learn what it feels like.
Bruce returned to school and completed his summer coursework. He explained that he felt compelled to come back to school because Tyler was so proud of his dad for going to college and so happy to be going himself. Many of Bruce’s friends counseled him to “put it behind him” and “go on with his life.” He couldn’t. Instead, he started a non-profit scholarship foundation in his son’s memory. He hired a lawyer to create the non-profit foundation, established a bank account for the foundation, started a web page to advertise his foundation, and is out personally raising money for the foundation. His goal is to raise money so other young men and women can realize their future, fulfilling their parent’s dreams. If you would like to learn more about Tyler or the scholarship foundation established in his name, go to http://www.thetylerbrucearnoldscholarshipfund.com/index.html