I read the Long Island Newsday article about a man who passed away from cancer, a man I hadn’t seen in 50 years.
I was incredibly saddened, to a degree that seemed unwarranted. And the reason for my sadness has everything to do with incredible human kindness that has transcended the passage of time.
In the 1960’s, I was a high school student that passionately loved sports. Thousands of hours of shooting baskets on the side of a barn, smacking whiffle balls over my mother’s clothesline, running a football into a pile of hay, and more.
There was only one problem.
I was terrible at what I loved. No athletic talent whatsoever.
But that didn’t stop me from trying to become one of the ‘guys’. And I reached out to the jocks.But the jocks wanted nothing to do with me. And they could be quite cruel about it.
But one of the jocks was different-one of them was a funny, smart,caring guy with a great All American presence.
He always wanted to know how I was doing and what I was up to. He seemed to care about me personally.
I was speechless. Why was this jock paying any attention to me? Nobody else did. If they did, it was to be mean. From him I always got a slap on the back, a “How you doin’?”
He graduated in.1966, nearly 50 years ago, 2 years before me. I have never seen him since. I recently came across the news article that chronicled his slow, painful passing. Dozens of friends from years past stopped by his home to pay their respects, and he graciously accepted them all.
I wish I was one of those friends. To stop by would have been awkward- he would have had no idea who I was. But I am willing to bet that he.would have warmly accepted me.
He’s gone forever-it is too late to contact him. But I can come here, to this site, where I come everyday. I can try to let you know why he was a ‘mensch’, as the Jews say, a really good, caring man. If I can share what made him special with you, then that might be OK.
So share I will, and I hope you wind up appreciating him as much as I did. It’s the least I can do.