It was a moment of time that I will never forget. The objective was clear then, rather forlorn now.
Grandsons Benjamin and Ethan were standing in their living room. In a moment of what I thought would be inspiration I said, “Boys, I’m getting a new boat next month. Please get good grades on your next report card so I can take you fishing”. Their eyes lit up as if they were looking at a Christmas tree. Their sister Lily smiled and said it was fun to fish with Paw-Paw. She knew from experience. Good grades came easily for her.
It was a misty morning while all three of them waited for their school bus. Ethan darted in front of a vehicle while playing with his brother. The driver braked and swerved but it was too late. Ethan died instantly.
My moment of “leadership” failed. Ethan will never go on that fishing trip. I dangled that trip on the boat like a carrot, hoping to inspire him. In hindsight, I realize I did that all backwards.
Leadership by example is far more effective. Had I taken Ethan fishing upfront, he would have been far more motivated to get good grades. Perhaps Ethan would have chosen to read a book like his sister that fateful morning. We will never know.
Ethan did not die for nothing, as three good things will happen.
First, the dangerous bus stop lies between two curves in the road with an intersection in the middle. We are petitioning the county to erect bus stop signs on both sides of the road. Seven other children will be safer for it.
Secondly, Ethan’s brother will be going fishing as soon as the weather warms up.
Thirdly, this grandfather learned a tough lesson about leadership.