Friday, October 07, 2005

Sad Today

I am sad today. I read the obituary this morning of a friend from high school. He was 43, the same age as me. I am not sad because we are the same age or because he is was young.

I had a fairly miserable time in school from 5th grade until half way through my junior year of high school. I was happy and fit in well in 1st through 4th grades. Then, I was moved from public school to a private school, hereafter known as Pain High School (PHS), after 4th grade. I don't really know why life changed so drastically with this transition. I just didn't seem to fit in. Kids were cruel and I had no friends initially. Maybe it was strictly due to being an outsider and the new kid at the same time. Most of these kids had been together since kindergarten. Things just seemed to get worse as time went on. A majority of the teachers and administration were just as bad or worse in the way they treated me and others in a similar situation.

Surprisingly (well, maybe not), this was a Church of Christ private school. I was Church of Christ too, but it didn't seem to matter. I can honestly say this environment was one of the most un-Christian places I have endured. Finally, during my junior year I had had enough. I told my parents I was not going back and that I wanted to transfer to Hillsboro High School. My Dad, who taught in Metro schools, did not mind. My mom was against it. She felt I needed to be in private school. I told them I could transfer or I could drop out, their choice. At this point, I had already been accepted into Vanderbilt having applied early. So being willing to drop out I think had an impact.

I transferred, and that year and a half at Hillsboro was one of the best times of my life. I made friends quickly, enjoyed my AP classes (which weren't available at PHS), and felt so much relief from stress. I still have many of the friendships I made at Hillsboro. Those at Hillsboro who had transferred very early on from PHS to public school asked, "what took you so long to leave?"

Anyway, I have never forgotten those few that were nice to me or that were my friends while attending PHS. Don Blair was one of those. I have no recollection of Don ever participating in ridiculing or humiliating me. He got along with everyone. Don seemed comfortable and confident within himself; probably a big reason for his likableness and friendliness. He did not need to deride others in order to build himself up.

Don led a hard life during his young adult years, most would say wild. He actually was on the competition rodeo circuit for several years as a professional bull rider. Despite any wildness, Don had a good heart. Sadly, Don also had a bad heart--he had major heart problems that began, I guess, in his late 20's and early 30's. I did not keep up with him after high school other than the odd word from old classmates. I believe he had a heart transplant in his early or mid 30's. I did know he was having severe problems these last few years.

I am sad reflecting on this time in my life. Yet, more so, I am sad because someone whose natural friendliness to me, which he probably didn't think twice about, had a profound effect on me; sips of cool water while struggling through a vast desert of the soul. "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you...thirsty and give you something to drink?' ... The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

It is the people like Don who I remember fondly and with respect. I believe in a loving and merciful God who accepts people like Don Blair. So, this is my small tribute to Don. Thank you for your kindness and God bless you.

Goodbye, Don, I will see you later and I will thank you.


Malia said...

That was beautiful Tony. It's wonderful how a little kindness can go a long way. We should all remember that.

jettybetty said...

What a great tribute. There are so many people who impacted my life for good that I wish I could go back and tell--I think Don knows his effect on your life now.

It makes me stop and think how I am influencing others that are in my life, too--I wanna be like Don!

Glad M enjoyed the salsa--I wonder why I have never thought about having salsa with milk? We sooo enjoyed our time with you--thanks again!!!


Jana said...

The fact that you had such a horrible experience at a Christian school is sad in itself. What a sweet tribute to your friend though. Thanks for sharing.