Today my heart is a tad heavy as I process two individuals that meant something to separate portions of my life. To help explain I am going to do something I don’t normally do; jump on the media bandwagon for one. Then I will tell a tale of overwhelming gratefulness towards the other.
Yesterday as we all know by now (if you were unaware I apologize for breaking it to you this way) Mr. Robin Williams ended his constant struggle with depression, taking his own life inside his home near San Francisco California.
Now for some this may mean nothing and judging by the overwhelming reaction through social media it is devastating to say the least for most.
I was first introduced to Robin Williams as a teenager of 13. His character introduced through Happy Days, then his own show Mork and Mindy was brilliant. I could not wait to watch him, to sit with my family as we all of laughed to his crazy antics. He made Thursday nights one of the most popular nights in our house and the ability to watch his show a driving force in completing homework, chores or what ever else my mother could use as leverage.
Something most people don’t know is Robin Williams made me want to become a stand up comedian. I would practice jokes in the bathroom, jokes to our horses, jokes to a tree if I could. For those who remember, he was the reason I practiced impressions of people or cartoons or who ever I felt I could impersonate. I laid in bed dreaming of standing on stage, being crazy and giving people the gift of laughter. In groups of friends he is the sole reason I learned to tell a good tale, just to make you laugh. Alas, I am not that funny, it wasnt my calling, fear plagued me from performing and I would only cautiously do impersonations if I knew you and felt comfortable enough to do so.
Fast forward 7 years.
I was lucky enough to meet mister Williams at the Sonoma Mission Inn one evening over a dinner being hosted by some notable people. He was kind, friendly and as always genuinely funny. Working there I met plenty of celebrities and most were arrogant, full of themselves and came across as though they were special. Not Mr. Williams. In one evening over a few hours Mr. Williams showed he was an everyday guy with an incredible gift. To make people laugh.
Yesterday when I heard the news it hit me in the stomach, like losing a war hero, an astronaut, someone we ALL have come to idolize in one way or another. Yes he wasnt a personal friend or family member, but for some reason he feels like one. Like a long-lost relative you knew about, heard about but never saw. I have him to thank for bringing me out of my shell as a child, something I am sure he has done for countless individuals. So many people (myself included) wish we could be that crazy, wish we could make people laugh with such power, such animation, such free-spirited will! I know I do.
The world has lost a wonderful, innovative, amazingly funny human being. There is no one person of his caliber to follow in those shoes. For that I am sad…. For that the country shall mourn. May the heavens glow under this mans light.
His name: Roger “Deets” Winslow
Many of you have never heard of Roger “Deets” Winslow or Deets as we all knew him. I found out last night the Napa county sheriffs office was searching for his body at the bottom of Lake Berryessa following some type of boating accident.
Now I could give you all the very same stories that most who knew him are expounding at this very moment, (awesome dad, super great coach, best of friends, etc..) but I wont. The reason I am struggling with the news of what appears to be his passing is quite simple.
I never was able to say thank you..
Once again through life spinning at a hundred miles an hour, turning in multiple directions, and never making it a priority. Quite simply I never was able to say thank you. High school was struggle for me as I have explained on numerous occasions. There were three individuals that saved me. Two saved me my sophomore year, and one saved me my junior year. What did they save me from? Myself.
Kurt Hornaday (rest in peace buddy) and Deets Winslow.
These two men saw a kid who wasnt doing well, couldn’t stand up for himself, had a mouth the size of texas, and took him (me) under their wings. They both introduced me to wrestling, they both took the time to become friends with a underclassmen, and they both helped guide me through my junior year; while letting me continue to write checks with my mouth that couldn’t be cashed, then teaching me (through friendship) how to right those wrongs.
The third person was Deets dad-Mr. Roger Winslow. I joined the wrestling team my junior year because of Kurt and Deets, Roger was the coach. I know he wanted to boot me from the team, I was weak, not fast, had no real comprehension when it came to drills, but he kept me, pushed me, and made me believe I could be better than I was every single practice. I only won a single JV match that entire year, but coach Winslow made me feel as though I had won the championship. He still resonates within me to this day and his coaching abilities/skills are why I became a coach and why the kids I have coached have had such a great time.
Deets and Kurt were friends, they were mentors, they were honest wonderful side by side buddies that would do anything for you at the drop of a hat. My senior year I struggled without their presence. Dont get me wrong I was surrounded by awesome people, spectacular friends who put up with me besides myself, but without that straight and honest advice whenever I felt I was straying or doing wrong, that year emotionally and physically (I hurt my knee pretty bad, the first few weeks of wrestling practice and just never came back) I was lost.
I never was able to thank Deets, I don’t think he even knew the impact he and Kurt had on my young messy life. I was never able to thank Kurt either and found out about his passing through a dear friend. I once again have procrastinated way to long…
Rest in peace my friend. May your family find some comfort through the lives you touched..
So there it is, I apologize for it being a bit messy, with a few run on sentences and goofy content. The main point is this; Dont procrastinate, tell those who are important to you, that helped you get to where you are; Thank you. They don’t do it for the recognition, they do it because they were raised right, held empathy in their hearts and cared about passing those feelings on to others.