The Kicker And The Kids

Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a chip shot field goal in a playoff game last week, and the Vikings lost.  No doubt he heard about it, in excruciating and probably vulgar detail, from the fans, and no doubt he personally felt terrible about it.

But then a first grade class decided to give him a show of support.  The kids wrote letters and drew pictures to encourage him, and recently Walsh stopped by their class to thank them.  You could tell that this football player was genuinely touched by the gesture and the kids’ innocent, warm-hearted decency and kindness.  The video above reports on Walsh’s visit and shows some of the kids’ drawings.

It’s a wonderful story that reminds me of the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  These kids know that there’s more to Blair Walsh, the human being, than a missed field goal, and they want to support him.  Why can’t more adults be like that?

Thank You For Being A Friend

Unfortunately, it happens to be the name of a less-than-great song — one that probably now will stick in your head for the rest of the day, sad to say — but the statement above is a sentiment that aptly expresses my feelings, so I’m using it anyway.

I’ve been amazed and touched by the kind words and comments we have received from friends and acquaintances in the wake of Mom’s death.  Whether it is memories shared by my best friend in high school and my college roommate, or a poem and expressions of sadness and support from colleagues at work, or a funny recollection from one of the very nice people who cared for Mom during her time at Mayfair Village Retirement Community, the outpouring of positive thoughts means a great deal.  They help to center the conflicting feelings that you experience when a loved one has finally succumbed to a long and difficult illness, and to focus and lock in on the positive memories that you will carry with you going forward.  It is affirming, too, to know that there are so many good people out there who will interrupt their days and act with a generous spirit when others are struggling with loss.

We will move on, of course, because that is what people do — and, in this case, what Mom obviously would have wanted us to do — but all of these positive and supportive thoughts will make the moving on process much, much easier.  I know that everyone in the Webner family feels the same way.

I am a strong proponent of saying “thank you” in response to offers of help and acts of kindness — so thank you to everyone.  We really appreciate it.

Jim Tressel Is A Good Man

I wasn’t going to write about this, because I viewed it as a wonderful personal gesture made out of friendship and decency, not something done for any kind of publicity. However, Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal has written about it, so I thought I’d add my two cents’ worth.

On Saturday, we had a celebration service for Aunt Bebe. To our surprise and delight, former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel was there. He had established a correspondents’ relationship with Aunt Bebe, as Ridenour describes, and he also visited Aunt Bebe in her final days. He wanted to pay his respects and share some thoughts about her.

What’s more, Coach Tressel was there even though he was squeezing his visit between an important morning meeting for the University of Akron, where he currently works, and an equally significant impending family obligation. Many people — even those who aren’t famous — would have begged off without a second thought. Not Coach Tressel!

It was a kind and classy gesture by a kind and classy man. We in Aunt Bebe’s family appreciated it, not only because it help to celebrate a loved one’s life but also because it showed there are still good people in the world. It helps to be reminded of that from time to time.

Jim Tressel is one of those good people. Thank you, Coach Tressel, for your thoughtfulness and kind gesture!

Recognizing And Celebrating A Good Deed

We hear so much about people behaving like jackasses.  How about a little story that shows that human beings — even important, powerful, wealthy ones — can still show decency, and kindness?

The setting was Washington, D.C.  A harried Mom was having a nightmarish travel day and thought that she had missed the last flight to Atlanta, where she was to pick up her daughter from summer camp.  She was the next name on the standby list and the jetway doors were ready to close when she miraculously got a seat.  The Good Samaritan was Richard Anderson, the CEO of Delta.  He gave up his cabin seat and sat in a jump seat in the cockpit so the Mom could make it home.  The grateful Mom, Jessie Frank, wrote about the story on her Facebook page; Delta confirmed it but hasn’t tried to capitalize on the good publicity.

Sure, I know — the cynics may wonder why the Delta flight was overbooked in the first place, and will point out that the CEO, unlike other passengers, had the means to use a cockpit seat that otherwise would be unavailable.  So what?  The fact is the man could have played the accustomed CEO/hyper-important person/Master of the Universe role, ignored the woman’s predicament, and kept his seat.  The world would have been none the wiser.  The fact that he did what he did says something good about him as a person, and the fact that Delta hasn’t tried to publicize the story says something good about Delta as a company.

If we want to encourage decent behavior we should recognize it.  So here’s to Mr. Richard Anderson and the folks at Delta who helped out a Mom in need.  A small gesture, perhaps, but one that brought a smile to my face.