For the past 25 years or so I’ve celebrated February 8th as a most unusual non-holiday. A unique, to me only, kind of day to celebrate and remember.
But January 8th 2011 changed everything for me, personally, as far as the way I look at February 8th. Please don”t let my mentions of January 8th and February 8th confuse you too much. As you read on I hope that will make some sense to you.
Five years ago, on January 8th, 2011 Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot along with 18 others. 6 were dead including a 9 year old girl and a federal judge. A tragic day that totally changed the way that I look at February the 8th. Yes, February 8th.
On February 8th, each year, I celebrate the lives of three people who were all born on February 8th and who, in there own way, had a very special influence on my life and frankly still do, even though they are all gone now.
- My dad…Lenis LeFoy Brower was born on February 8th 1923. He died December 1st 1988 at the age of 65 of a heart attack. Dad and I weren’t very close for a very long time. I used to blame that on him for the longest time but as I got older I realized that I was an equal player in our distance. The last few years of his life we did become closer and we were able to hug and kiss and share that we loved each other. But when he died instantly, it left me with so many unanswered questions and guilt and so many feelings that it took me another 10 years before I could process them and love him unconditionally with the grace and forgiveness that he truly deserved and to genuinely honor him as my Dad.
- Dan Butner was also born on the same day, same year, and same month as my father. The interesting thing about Dan was he also had my initials D.W.B. I first met Dan in Chico, CA in 1991…he was the Chief Engineer at a group of radio stations that I was just hired to be the VP/General Manager of. He had a reputation of being a great engineer but his people skills were, well let’s say people thought he was a crotchety old foul mouthed retired Navy man and he certainly didn’t have any respect for me coming in to my new postiion. I walked in to his office one day and said “Dan, you know what? You and I are going to be best of friends one day.” To which he responded “what the hell makes you think so?” And I followed with “because you have the same birthday as my father…same month, same day, same year and plus you have my exact initials. So guess what? You have no choice!” Turned out I was right. We stayed in touch long after I left Chico right up until he passed away a few years ago.
- Frank Mertz was also born on February the 8th but several years before Dad and Dan. I also met him for the first time when I walked in the door to those same radio stations in Chico, CA on October 1 1991. He was the retired VP/General Manager of that group and he took me under his wing and taught be about the history and the heritage of not only those radio stations but Chico itself. I had been in Chico less than 3 months when he took me, as his guest, to the annual Chico Chamber of Commerce dinner. Big big deal in town…you know the drill, the old President goes out and the new one comes in…big stuff. We were sitting there having dinner with hundreds of movers and shakers listening to a speech by Abe Baily when Frank leaned over to me and said “you’ll be up there one day as President”. I looked at him and smiled and while my head said “yea right” my heart new he was right. I became Chamber president 6 years later in 1998 and we named a memorial Golf Tournament after Frank along the way.
So I guess my point of all this is really quite simple… you never know when life is going to change dramatically as it did for the many families in Tucson, AZ or even end as abruptly as it did for my Dad…so we have to be sure, and I mean be absolutely sure, that we tell the people we care about that we love them. That we tell them today and tomorrow and as often as we can because one day we’ll either be remembering them or they will be remembering us and either way we want those memories filled with love.
To my wife Karen: With out you I would not have God in my life and I would not know the joy that our life together brings. I am truly blessed everyday because you are in my life and I look forward to every single day that remains before God welcomes me home.
To my children, step-children; grandkids, great grandson and yes even my grand-dogs: I love you and am grateful for every day that I have had you in my life and I look forward to every single day that remains before God welcomes me home.
To my closest of friends…My “Bored Buddies” and the Terrano kids, all in Chico, CA; to my “Monday Night Bible Study Group”; and to 2 that I consider my brothers…Steve and Allan. I love you all and I look forward to every single day that remains before God welcomes me home.
There are countless others who have gone before me and who will go after me that I honor in memory and in prayer.
And to my fellow Vietnam Vets…”WELCOME HOME”!
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