It would mean a lot to me if you would do something for me today. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this post on 12.29.17 or any other day. Whenever you see or hear these words, please do me a favor.
Go out of your way to make someone smile. Go out of your way to make someone know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you care about them and love them.
On December 29th, 2004 my life changed.
If you’d rather listen to this blog, tears and all, instead of reading it, please click here.
I was in North Carolina in a teeny off-campus apartment during Christmas break of my senior year. Just the day before I had been at home in New Hampshire but drove back for my part time job.
The rest of my large family was in New England, skiing and celebrating Christmas.
Do you remember AOL Instant Messenger? Well, that night I was on AOL IM when my 13 year old cousin Dylan sent me a message.
“You need to call your mom.”
He was at my mom’s house – they had been skiing that day – but it was late. Probably almost 10pm. Maybe a little later.
“Why?” I asked. “It’s late.” My mom is an early bird like me. Early to bed, early to rise. I figured calling would wake her up.
“I can’t tell you, but it’s bad.”
I was worried but I figured something happened to one of my grandparents. They were in their 80s. I called home and my mom answered immediately.
Her voice sounded different than I had ever heard it. I still can’t describe what it sounded like. She didn’t say hello. She just said, “Why are you calling?”
Casually I responded, “I don’t know. Dylan told me to.”
There was a pause.
“Dad’s dead. The police are here. I have to go.”
She hung up. She was in shock, I’m sure. Only minutes earlier Dylan had answered the door for the police who told my mom that her husband, my step dad, the man who raised me, had been in a fatal accident just a few miles down the road.
It was a nightmare. It was real life, but that evening in North Carolina, planning how I could get home as quickly as possible, was the beginning of a terrible nightmare.
I’m not sharing this story because I want your sympathy. That’s the last thing I want.
I’m telling you this story, that I’ve never shared here with the Primal Potential family, because I want to share the joy and vitality of my dad with all of you. And I want to encourage you to share some of the joy & vitality in your own life.
I have an opportunity to really make that happen by sharing a little bit about him with you so that you can help me spread his heart & his joy.
He was not a complainer. He wasn’t a perfect man, by any stretch of the imagination, but he was undeniably full of life and full of joy.
We need more of that. All of us.
Growing up, when we’d leave for school, he’d send us off by saying, “Make someone smile today!” When we’d come home, he’d follow-up, “Who did you make smile today?”
He made everyone around him smile. He drove a big construction van and placed a huge, neon smiley face pin on the dash of the van. You couldn’t miss it. Everyone saw it.
He’d loudly (and perfectly) whistle “Don’t Worry Be Happy” in grocery stores so we’d know where he was, and to bring a smile to all the other shoppers.
He was never afraid to spontaneously break out into song. Of course we were regularly embarrassed but he didn’t care at all.
My mom hates this picture but I love it. They threw the best parties – this was their “ugly bridesmaid dress, tacky suit” party. He was the fun at every party.
He adored my mom & she showed it. He sent her flowers at work every Monday and would regularly say to me & my sister Debi, “Isn’t your mother beautiful?”
He had the loudest laugh you’ve ever heard and he wasn’t afraid to shout warm greetings in public places. “Heyyyyyyyyoooooo!”
He helped everyone he could, whenever he could. He gave huge hugs, even to strangers.
I am pretty sure that if I could speak to him today and ask him how I could make him proud, he would say, “Make your mother feel special today.” That I can do.
And I’d like to extend a variation of that to you.
Please make someone smile today. Be a bright light in the world today. Please do it today and please do it more often.
12.29.04. I will make your light shine brighter. The best of you is a huge part of me.