Driving and Biking in the Big City

Proof of Life Sundays

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John in Oman Laura on a cold Sunday Marcus and Laura Trav and Laura Leigh Trav in Gold's Gym Trav on another sundayWithout even realizing it, my family has embarked on a new tradition that is catching on, quick enough to accomplish even in our busy lives and making it easier for everyone to live with me. The way to play is simple. My kids and husband are to send me a photo of themselves on Sundays, perhaps in action. No canned or previous photos. The players snap a photo, message it to me, I tell them how adorable they are and I leave them somewhat alone to be adults for the next few days. In fact, my husband doesn’t always have to play if he’s at home with me and I know, in fact, that he’s alive.

The title for this event, of course, comes from the many kidnapping movies we’ve seen when the kidnapper is required to show “proof of life” before the family of the poor victim coughs up the millions and millions of dollars. As an avid movie-lover, mystery reader and former longtime police reporter, it made surprising sense for this new tradition to evolve.

It couldn’t have come earlier in our lives together as a family because we didn’t have the technology we have today. But with smart phones and easy photo apps, we are now good to go for Proof of Life Sundays.

My kids will tell you it wasn’t much of a peaceful childhood when you are being raised by a mom who is/now was a police reporter.  I can track down anyone, anywhere, anytime. I know how to talk to cops, hospital personnel, ambulance drivers, teachers, friends, moms of friends, even funeral homes to get me one step closer to where you are at all times. And, if I don’t know how to do it, I know someone who can. It’s like the Kevin Bacon game. How many calls do I have to make to get the information I need. I’ve cultivated the art of persistence.

We need to call Oprah? I have a friend who went to school with her. Kevin Costner? The same. A government official; they are so easy. College officials, I know someone who went there and may even have a building or two named for a big gift. And, in fact, I still have a few powerful newspaper friends. Haven’t asked them for a favor in a long time, but I’m keeping the potential in my pocket.

My husband of 40 years probably knows my persistence better than anyone. I remember the time when I convinced the police at Houston Intercontinental Airport to search the inter-terminal trains. This is when we lived in Michigan, the kids were really young and my husband traveled relentlessly. He was pretty predictable about calling home to tell me he’d arrived safely and even stayed routinely at the same places, especially in Houston.

Well, on this particular night, he did not call home, he was not at the expected hotel and his loving and faithful wife worried that he’d croaked somewhere in transit. The cops searched, didn’t find him. Eventually, I called his assistant who made his travel arrangements (yes, we’re talking midnight) and she had put him at a new hotel because of a conference he was attending. Whew!! All was well and some even learned.

My beautiful sister-niece Pam and her Pepper who are fans of Proof of Life Sundays

Proof of Life of my beautiful sister-niece Pam and her Pepper. So adorable.

The rule of thumb for my kids was to call home at least before mom called the cops. They knew when I’d start getting edgy. They also knew that back in my daily newspaper days, I covered all the possible worst case scenarios.

  • The baby who choked on her coat when her mom didn’t take off her jacket because the infant was sleeping so peacefully.
  • The 4-year-old tossed from the back of a moving pickup truck.
  • The twins who were killed in the bathtub when their dad dropped the hairdryer in the water.
  • The elementary child killed crossing the street after his caregiver let go of his hand and turned away to go home.
  • The teen-ager who died in the dentist’s chair having his wisdom teeth removed.
  • The diamond salesman who was conked on the head and buried the very night he went missing.

I will stop there because I’m making us all depressed about the fragility of life. I’m a sure case of journalism “post traumatic syndrome.” All horrible and many more.

But my cop reporting is now in my DNA and will be passed on to my kids and probably their kids. The motto is worthy if the crazy is not:

I will be smart enough, strong enough and never too lazy to help.

Bring on Proof of Life Sunday or I’m there whether you needed me or not.



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