Karen Abbott

At The Fencepost: June 20, 2012

Karen Abbott

by Karen Abbott

I enjoy creating custom picture frames at the shop where I work.  It’s a pleasure to take an unframed piece of art, figure out what the customer sees and wants to highlight, and make it come to life with mats, glass, and wood.

Recently I measured up three diplomas to make into one picture, a routine framing task.

The customer and I made light conversation, as we often do when precious art and family photos are laid out in front of a total stranger.

I asked my customer about her daughter, since she was clearly proud of her diplomas. My customer said she was a musician, a French horn player and soon-to-be teacher.

The framed documents were a surprise gift for her husband, however; not the daughter. My curiosity hung in the air.

To my surprise and sorrow, the customer gave a brief but wrenching explanation: their daughter had been killed by a distracted driver.

She was just finishing her master’s degree in music and she was on her way to give a lesson.  A split second in the path of the wrong driver and her life was gone.

Her bachelor’s, gone. Her master’s, over. The distinguished honor of a high school student learning at Eastman, fruitless.  A father’s grief, unmitigated after three years of aching.

Since then, it’s seems I spot drivers talking on cell phones every day. I see one swerve through the intersection, hand to his inside cheek, pretending he’s not finishing up a phone call.  She holds a coffee in one hand and jerks the wheel with the other.

Another holds the coffee and pinches a phone between her shoulder and her ear.  Still another’s talking on the straightaway, apparently bored enough with basic driving that he has time to do a little business with a client.

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