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The great equalizer

Don Rogers

Smart, dumb. Gifted, slow. Rich, poor. Old, young. Male, female. Talented, or a hack like me. Damn straight. We’re equal, all right.

This thought came with the horrible news that a nephew died in a plane crash in the ocean off Dana Point, Calif., last weekend. The authorities are still trying to fish the Cessna wreckage out of the 200-foot-deep sea.

The single-engine plane plunged into the water about 100 yards from a tall ship sailing about three miles off-shore on a beautiful, blue sky day. It sank out of sight before the ship crew could get the boats out. Four were aboard. Four, presumably, are still in the plane.



It’s hopelessly depressing. Great young man. Adventuresome. Friendly. Genuinely kind. Married to my wife’s niece, the oldest of the sons and daughters of the siblings. Father of a first-grader and a toddler. He’ll be missed deeply. I call him a kid, at 35. But he lived full and like the song says, only the good …

The kid had a life 99 percent of us would die for. Beautiful, personable, loving wife. Daughters who adore you. Enough wealth for second and third homes. Two family planes. One family yacht. Time to explore. The world your oyster. Oh, and you live on Laguna Beach. On the beach.



A few seconds and it’s all done. Like that. Now, with our backdrop eternity, we’re mere winks of those stars. To us, while were here, that wink is a long time. The 50 or so years we lost of our nephew from the accident will seem like eternity.

And that’s just us. His daughters’ memories will fade to a dull ache, a few snatches of happy memories. His wife ” oh God ” our niece, this isn’t fair. It’s no comfort whatsoever that this too is part of life, what makes life in many ways more precious. Knowledge that suddenly, in seconds, on a blue-sky gorgeous day, any one of us can plunge into the abyss.

We’re all made equal on that account. What might be different is how much we are missed by those we leave behind. That, too, I think, has little to do with wealth, fame, talent ” and all about how we lived.



It’s worth thinking about, and taking action for, the wink the rest of us have left.


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