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Michael J. Hebenstreit: Life Rushing By

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IBA-hebenstreitLife moments. Some may be an accomplishment (winning a big trial), a disappointment, a funeral or a seemingly insignificant event. We all have them—some good, some not so good, but they are those events that for some reason stick with us for a lifetime. One of mine occurred about 20 years ago. I was accompanying my son on a Boy Scout camping trip and the other young Scouts kept addressing someone they called “Mr. Hebenstreit.” That had always been my Dad, but it dawned on me that even though I did not feel particularly old or grown up at that time, they were referring to me, not my dad. They reminded me that I was older than I thought. A real life moment.

This summer, we have just finished a marathon of five weddings on five consecutive weekends. They took us to Hilton Head Island, Peoria, Oxford, Ohio and two were actually here in Indy. Although they certainly dominated our social calendar, all were quite fun. Four of them involved the weddings of children of our good friends and two involved “kids” who were also very close friends of our children.

The final wedding was for the daughter of my law partner, Greg Zubek. Mollie and our youngest son met in pre-kindergarten and have been close friends ever since. In fact, it was probably their friendship that encouraged the conversations between Greg and me that lead to our practicing together.

As I watched all of these young men and women walk down the aisle to begin the new chapter of their lives, I was stuck with the thought that an entire lifetime had passed in front of my eyes. We have known the parents for decades and watched those “children” grow up through various school events, sports, school troubles and successes, and vacations and have been a part of their lives. Now each was heading out and forging new lives. We enjoyed seeing our friends and being a part of this new experience for their children. It was a life moment that was about life passages.

Weddings and funerals are two life moments that create unique challenges and opportunities. How much does it really mean for the person or family to see you at the wedding or attend the funeral? It is easy to diminish the importance and find excuses for not making the effort. We all are busy and have too much to do already. The importance of reaching out to friends really hit home at Mollie’s wedding. Our son had debated if it made sense to fly in from LA just for the weekend when he knew he really would not have much of a chance to actually talk with the bride. When Mollie saw Kyle in the church, she actually started crying. That simple moment was worth a king’s ransom. Like most folks these days, they stay in touch by Facebook and the other forms of social media, but that face to face interaction obviously meant so much. A real life moment.

Every legal publication we pick up these days has at least one article about life / work / career balance. How do we juggle home life, career, the practice, the family and still make it all work for us. Why is it important? I really don’t think my parents devoted any time thinking about their life/work balance. They were too concerned about raising four children, paying the bills and getting all of us educated to have time to worry about their own happiness.

Recently, I have spoken with age contemporaries in bigger firms who have commented that they are confounded by the perceived lack of work ethic in the young associates in their firms. Many are nowhere to be seen after 5:00 PM. Perhaps they are working from home remotely after they put the children to bed, perhaps not. There is nothing wrong with hard work. After all, that is the foundation upon which our society has been built and supported. Virtually anything worth accomplishing comes as a result of hard work. It is a necessary part of our lives. But along with that hard work comes the challenge of creating positive life moments. Through all of these weddings, it has become very clear to me that it is critical to not only develop friendships, but to maintain them throughout your life. It enriches life, gives it special meaning and puts everything in perspective. Work hard, play hard, but don’t forget to make time for friends.•

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  1. Bob Leonard killed two people named Jennifer and Dion Longworth. There were no Smiths involved.

  2. Being on this journey from the beginning has convinced me the justice system really doesn't care about the welfare of the child. The trial court judge knew the child belonged with the mother. The father having total disregard for the rules of the court. Not only did this cost the mother and child valuable time together but thousands in legal fees. When the child was with the father the mother paid her child support. When the child was finally with the right parent somehow the father got away without having to pay one penny of child support. He had to be in control. Since he withheld all information regarding the child's welfare he put her in harms way. Mother took the child to the doctor when she got sick and was totally embarrassed she knew nothing regarding the medical information especially the allergies, The mother texted the father (from the doctors office) and he replied call his attorney. To me this doesn't seem like a concerned father. Seeing the child upset when she had to go back to the father. What upset me the most was finding out the child sleeps with him. Sometimes in the nude. Maybe I don't understand all the rules of the law but I thought this was also morally wrong. A concerned parent would allow the child to finish the school year. Say goodbye to her friends. It saddens me to know the child will not have contact with the sisters, aunts, uncles and the 87 year old grandfather. He didn't allow it before. Only the mother is allowed to talk to the child. I don't think now will be any different. I hope the decision the courts made would've been the same one if this was a member of their family. Someday this child will end up in therapy if allowed to remain with the father.

  3. Ok attorney Straw ... if that be a good idea ... And I am not saying it is ... but if it were ... would that be ripe prior to her suffering an embarrassing remand from the Seventh? Seems more than a tad premature here soldier. One putting on the armor should not boast liked one taking it off.

  4. The judge thinks that she is so cute to deny jurisdiction, but without jurisdiction, she loses her immunity. She did not give me any due process hearing or any discovery, like the Middlesex case provided for that lawyer. Because she has refused to protect me and she has no immunity because she rejected jurisdiction, I am now suing her in her district.

  5. Sam Bradbury was never a resident of Lafayette he lived in rural Tippecanoe County, Thats an error.

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