When I was young, my family lived one whole block from Dublin elementary school. So, I walked to school every day. But no matter how short the distance, as I headed out the door armed with my brown paper sack lunch, Mom would say, “Be careful.”
That parental warning has always hovered over me in one form or another. When I turned 16 and got my driver’s license, Mom’s goodbye warnings changed from “Be careful” to “Drive careful.” That was decades ago, but to this day when I visit, Mom’s parting words are “Drive careful!”
Dad (now 88) gives me the same warnings. If I cook him a meal and need to step out to his breezeway to fetch something from the freezer, he’ll say, “Be careful.” Or if I head to his basement to use the weight bench or to bring up canned green beans, I know he’ll call out to be careful.
Now, understand that I’m not a reckless person. I do drive defensively. I don’t text while driving. I watch where my feet are going on stairs. But those parental admonitions still pop out, and I’m they always will.
Then, just over a week ago, I noticed something. I’d driven my young grandsons to Falls Park on the Reedy in Greenville, SC. It’s a beautiful place for photos. There are footbridges, waterfalls, pools of water, ducks and geese. My grandsons are still at that young age where water lures them with magnetic attraction. As five-year-old Jonny peered into the pool where geese bobbed along, I heard a voice caution, “Be careful!”
Surprise — the voice was mine. Even though the water was shallow and the danger mild, my automatic response was to repeat the same warning I’ve heard all my life. Life is full of accidents, dangers, and various causes of unhappiness. They happen. We can’t always shield loved one from life’s scrapes and bumps, so our inner voice (or actual voice) urges them to take care. And that’s a good thing.
Friend, the world is fraught with dangers. Some dangers are small, such as stepping into a puddle and getting a shoe wet. (Yes, Jonny managed it despite my vigilance!) Others are life threatening. None of us can save the whole world, but we can care enough to show concern for loved ones. So, friend, if you cared enough to pause and share these thoughts, then I care enough about you to say, “Be careful!”
(And Mom would be proud!)