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It is human nature to find things significant to oneself in things which are actually unrelated.  Finding coincidence is much more the result of people’s need to matter than of actual probabilities. 

My friends Forrest and Linda produce a blog called Austin Texas Daily Photo and I really enjoy their specific views on downtown Austin living. Earlier this week they posted this:

If you look real hard, you’ll see Carl Maxwell on the statue. That’s my grandfather.  He was killed fighting an oil field fire when he was a volunteer firefighter in Monahans, TX.  I don’t know the whole story of his life, but I know the story of his death which is gruesome and involves graphic details I’m not sure in retrospect were appropriate to tell a five-year-old child.  Now that I think about it, I know a lot of gruesome details of various family injuries and deaths so perhaps I pushed for the information.  I do like a good forensics show still.

Does the manner of a person’s death change what their life meant?  If someone died doing something either stupid or selfless, does it mitigate a lifetime of kindness or assholic behavior?

I never knew him but still get a little sentimental when I see this statue.   I want to be proud.  It’s not like I’m the daughter of a war hero but still, kinda cool to see an ancestor honored there on the Capitol grounds.

I wonder what might have been if my grandfather had not died a tragic but heroic death when my father was a teenager.  What was the man really like?  Was he warm, wonderful and loving as some people have told me, or did you cross the street to avoid passing him on the sidewalk as I’ve heard from others? Would my dad have escaped the overwhelming guilt that burdened him until he died?  How would my life have been different and what would I think of this man who cast such a very long shadow both in life and in death?

I bet Forrest and Linda had no idea their post was all about me.

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