Thank you….

 

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.

#1

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.

Today

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.

#2

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.

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The Face of Leukemia- A day for surprises…

 

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What does it mean to “touch” a life?

Everyday we walk this earth, worrying about our “in the moment” crises, complaining about our “bad” days, struggling to get ahead, feeling father and farther behind. But do you know what it feels like to actually touch someones life? To be that moment, that bright and shining star leaving someone wanting to see you again, yearning to feel the warmth your presence brings. Do you?

I believe everyone does. I believe every single person walking the face of this earth is just what I described to someone. Maybe to more than just one, but at least one person in your life feels that way when YOU walk through the door.

It becomes very easy to forget what our presence can mean to people in our lives. As I previously stated life itself does have a strange tendency to get in the way. But what if we could look outside ourselves for just a minute? Have the ability to look back upon our lives feeling the emotions within people surrounding us. Know in that moment of weakness leading us to complain about life, while feeling down upon ourselves that those moments are ok, but in reality are really nothing more than a  waste of our energy.  A waste of our precious time.  What if we could do that before we leave this earth? Before it is all recounted upon the lips of a friend or family member without us ever knowing?

Today-

Today I stood by while my wife was mobbed by students at her school. They looked like puppies held at bay as we rounded the corner onto a black top designed for play. These children lined up into perfect rows, facing their teachers. Until one noticed a look of surprise cast across another’s face, and as most inquisitive minds do, turned to see what caused such a shocked reaction.  It started slowly, a gasp, then murmurs of Ms.Jacy here, and another there, until they all were screaming it loudly! Ms. Jacy!!!!! MS. JACY!!!! Not knowing whether to run or stay in perfect formation the looked; “like puppies on a leash”. Until they could no longer contain themselves and all it took was one puppy to break free from the constraints of rules. They came fast and I saw a smile arise from my wife (Ms. Jacy) and emotions shared from these children that said to me; this is her moment. She now knows…

This was the moment as a human being you hopefully realize you mean more to the world than your little daily problems will allow you to believe. A moment when you stand back and let a wave of love overcome you. A moment that most people won’t realize until its to late.  Watching my wife smothered in love from both students and co-workers today left my heart aching with joy. At one point while speaking to some colleagues she began to cry at how much she missed them all, how much she loved her job, her classroom and what it meant to be a teacher at Dixon Montessori School, surrounded by colleagues who felt as she does towards these children.

She cried and I stood aside; normally I would have swooped her up, protected her, whisking her away, shielding her from emotional pain. But in this one moment, I just stood there, gulped down hard as to not look weak and let her friends, her co-workers surround her with love.  This was her moment of clarity and I prayed she was, for a second standing outside her body to see, just what she means to these kids, these parents, these friends.

We left after roughly 30 minutes or so, Ms. Jacy becoming increasingly exhausted. As we walked through the campus, several children grabbed at her sweater, looking for hugs, looking for a smile, looking to tell her they loved her, missed her and couldn’t wait until securedownload-9she returned to them, healthy and whole.

It was in fact the longest walk ever, back to the car.

Cancer sucks, cancer changes your life forever. Our lives together will forever travel a new and different path aligned with Leukemia but together will win this fight.

As you head into this holiday, who are you a shining light for, who waits to see you smile, what family member(s) want nothing more than to spend time with you? Who makes a difference in your life? Who can you not wait to see? What person(s) take up every moment of your thoughts because of the joy they bring into your life?

I beg of you, find out if you don’t know the answer to these questions. Dont waste time wondering, don’t wait until its to late to know.

Today witnessing the empathy and caring my wife has shared  with so many others, her passion for being a teacher and friend, that same love and emotion shared in return; just being a part of that experience with her, leaves me feeling very blessed.

Of course I already treasure the gifts she has brought into my life.  I know who the one person is that I yearn to see, that I long for, whom I cant wait to see walk through the door. The person who brings light into my life.

Just look at her smile, it says it all…..

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