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Material Coping
by Michael C. Keith

Chico and Mary Lavoie had four sons, and in as many years they had none.

Ronny was their youngest, and he was the first to go. A terminal disease had claimed him at 32. He had smoked two packs of Marlboros a day for most of his life, despite his parent’s constant pleading that he stop. To cope with their devastating loss, the Lavoies purchased matching Rolexes.

Less than six months after Ronny’s demise, Carlos crashed his motorcycle into the back of a trash removal truck. His injuries did him in two days later. The Lavoies were shocked as well as forlorn, since their son had always taken the greatest of precautions on his Yamaha Stryker. To deal with the tragedy, the distraught parents bought a 28-foot Chris Craft cabin cruiser.

The next year brought even more pain to Chico and Mary when their second born drown while swimming in the local quarry. The blow of losing their third son was as great as it had been the year before when Carlos had his unexpected accident. Barry had been an award-winning member of the Y’s swim team, and his drowning seemed incomprehensible to his parents. To handle their despair, the Lavoies added a media center to their house.

When their last surviving child, Carson, died in a construction accident just 13 months later, the Lavoies again knew they had to do something to come to terms with their crushing grief. After considering numerous possibilities, they realized that their grieving had left them broke.