When I was a baby and took my first steps you told me to be safe and held my hand as I figured out how to put one foot in front of the other.
At age six when I got my first bike for Christmas all I wanted to do was ride it, but you told me to be safe, so I put on my helmet and watched out for traffic.
When I got my first pair of roller blades I headed out to skate with my friends. You told me to be safe again and I put on my helmet, elbow, and knee pads before I skated off.
A few years later when dad brought home an old busted dirt bike I was ecstatic. Dad and I spend many weeks rebuilding it and getting it to run right. Finally when we had it running perfect I jump on and started to take off when you called out from the deck. The same words I have heard before but always seem to forget until I hear them from you. “Be safe” you said, so I hoped down and grabbed my motorcycle helmet.
My sixteenth birthday came around and you gave me a set of shinny new keys to an older looking car. You wouldn’t let me drive it for the first couple days because it had snowed. But once the roads were clear I was ready to go. Before I left the house you had some more words of caution “be safe”. These words stuck with me as I got into the driver seat and buckled the seat belt and adjusted the mirrors.
When I was eighteen and started bringing girls around you still shared those two words with me behind my girlfriends back. “Be safe” you would say and I knew just what you meant.
After college I moved out with my future wife. You gave me a big hug and told me you would miss me. You said to take care of myself and I could always visit. Before I pulled out of the drive way with the last of my stuff loaded into the truck you told me one last time to be safe.
Years later when I came home to visit for the holidays you met me at the door with a hug and a smile. You wrapped your arms around my waist and stopped with your hand on the bulge on my left hip. You looked up at me and asked why I carried a pistol with me. I looked into your eyes with a smile and said, “Just being safe like you always told me.”