Many years ago, my wife and I moved into a new community.  On the very day we were unloading our household items our new neighbors came over to introduce themselves.  Our visitors included a wonderful family, Scott and Mary and their children, just two houses away. Expecting our first child in a few months, we immediately appreciated and valued our new neighbors and their hospitality.The months passed, and soon our son arrived.   Of course, that created a somewhat regular schedule of late night feedings and changings for a little boy who quickly determined he was someone who enjoyed being up late.

This was a bit of a challenge for me, because I have always been someone who rises with the dawn.  But, I was determined to be helpful, so I opted for the ‘night shift’.  Over those first few weeks, I found that while my son would quickly resume his comfort, he didn’t go fast asleep, and I was beginning to stay awake longer.

One day, while standing on the sidewalk that bridged our two homes, I was describing my late-night ‘dad and son’ time with my newborn to my neighbor, Scott.  Scott had just picked up the classic television miniseries, Lonesome Dove.  Like him, I have a genuine love for westerns and the actors in the program seemed to make it a great thing to see.  Scott had just finished watching the series and insisted I take it home and watch it—since I was, as he said with a knowing smile, “… going to be awake for a good part of every night, anyway”.

That very night, I awoke to the now familiar subtle calling-cry of my son, ready for his bottle, change and our quiet time in the rocking chair.  After making it to the kitchen and preparing his bottle, we moved on to the living room.  Then I remembered that Scott had sent me home with his Lonesome Dove videotapes!  Armed with the opportunity of some quality entertainment, I plopped the first cassette into the player, sat back down and watched.

Actually, I watched TWO episodes that night.  The next night, I watched the other two.  By the third evening, I had already adjusted my strategy to the point that I had the all of the episodes ready and the first loaded in the VCR, so when the late night feeding came along, there would be a swift arrival to the rocking chair.  So on that third evening, there we were:  The ‘Night Owl’, the ‘Early Bird’, and the Lonesome Dove—all over again.

More than twenty-four years and a couple of relocations later, I continue to treasure Scott for what he did—and what he intended to do—by sharing that story with me.  I know well that he provided me the ability to see a well-told story of the Old West, but more importantly, I learned the much greater gift of wisdom from one father to another that Scott gave me through the lens of a simpler time.  In many ways within that story, Scott’s example of generosity, purpose, wisdom and legacy are perfectly explained.  And in all of this, I believe Scott knew all along the very value of it all.  I believe this because my son has grown to be a very thoughtful, principled and kind man.  Highly intelligent, sensitive and compassionate, he too, is generous in his relationships.

This personal account is all about legacy; one that I hope others will pause, seek and find examples of mentors whose manner might be so subtle, but so authentic, that we do not realize how impactful they are as we share our time with them.  And as we all know well, that time is fleeting.

On January 31st, Scott passed on to a place I believe is made better by his arrival.  His family remains a testament to all that a good man aspires to and works for, and his friends are better people for Scott being a part of their lives.  Yet his passion for learning and understanding, while remarkable, were not the standard for which he will most certainly continue to inspire others.  In fact, my favorite statement in Lonesome Dove may very well best define Scott’s very special nature.  As Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae says, “The hardest thing on Earth, is choosing what matters.”

For Scott, who always chose love to love others, it wasn’t hard at all.

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