Sunday, January 18, 2009

Life Throws Us Curves . . .

Life can surely throw us some curves. Sometimes those curves are positive and sometimes, not so positive. However, while I’ve dealt with a lot of the highs and lows of life’s roller coaster, I do my best to remember that it’s about our attitude and how we look at each of life’s events that really makes the difference in how it all turns out.

My dear friend, mentor, colleague and client, Charlie ‘Tremendous’ Jones died recently, as you’ll recall if you’ve been following my blog. Charlie was pronounced “terminal” with advanced stage prostate cancer some 10 years ago. The doctors gave him a short time to live, probably six months to a year. Charlie looked at dying as an experience to be savored. He was one of the most committed people I’ve ever known to his Christian beliefs and faith. This man impacted the lives of millions of people, literally, around the world during his nearly 81 years on this 3rd Rock from the Sun. Yet, he felt himself unworthy of God’s grace or the accolades bestowed upon him. Sure, he had an ego and a pretty good sized one, at that. But, Charlie didn’t let his ego control how he related to and shared his life with other people, even the least of them. Charlie went into remission, a miracle that even the doctors can’t really explain. He lived ten years instead of the original six months to a year the doctors gave him. During that time he impacted the lives of many more new friends and bolstered even more, the lives of friends, people like me, and kept supporting and encouraging us to reach our potential. His presentation methods and words were unorthodox to say the least. And, whenever I or anyone asked Charlie at any time about anything, how he felt, his answer was always, “Grateful!” Charlie truly experienced the process of dying and accepted it like any other positive experience in his life. In his mind and heart, Charlie was free.

My son, Pete, visited me in early November while I was in the final stages of clearing out all the old stuff and trash that would end up in the landfill from the ranch in the Shenandoah Valley. He was gracious enough to offer his assistance in packing up some stuff to go to the storage unit, sort through stuff and prepare it for the landfill. He had been there when I moved in - and coincidentally, became the survivor of prostate cancer, myself, in 2003. He received a phone call while sitting in the terminal at BWI airport n his way back to Seattle, where he had just packed up his worldly possessions to move to his grandmother’s house in Fresno, CA for storage before taking off on his next world travel adventure. The call was from an old team mate from his first contract at Microsoft in Redmond, WA. After the pleasantries, she told him that she was now in charge of a specific project involving one of Microsoft’s consumer products and that she “wanted” him on her team as a contractor. The made him a financial offer for an 8 month contract that was hard to pass on. So, instead of being in some country meeting new people and learning new things, Pete started on his new contract with Microsoft this past Monday and has found himself a new place to live in Seattle in a perfect location for him. He’ll take off on his next world travel adventure at the completion of this contract.

Ed Helvey

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