This past week and a half has been an unusual for many reasons — challenges of business, some personal items, but most of all because of the deaths of three people: Anne Chase my cousin George’s widow; Ted Kennedy a towering icon of civic inspiration and personal redemption for me, and finally Bud Thompson, fellow practitioner in communication, his being advertising and design here in the Mid-Hudson Valley.
Anne’s passing a week ago Friday and Senator Kennedy’s on Tuesday were not unexpected, each having persevered through terminal illness. Anne and Ted set a stage for personal reflection. Then came news Friday that Bud was killed while bicycling not all that far from where I write – colliding with a deer. His death is a keen reminder that we truly have at any time only the present. We don’t know when we walk through the door in the morning whether we will be back that evening.
But there is light here. Lots of it. Each of the three cast in their own way rays that warm, illuminate and even strike awe as does a glorious sunset.
The Gift of Confidence
Anne was the glorious sunset, a quiet person who with George migrated from New England to the the Los Angeles area in the early 1960s, where they made a life raising two wonderful girls, themselves parents today. There was a certain spirit in those years. Some struck for Alaska; others for the South and many of course to California. Ann remains with her George quiet explorers, early “settlers” in Ventura County’s Simi Valley. Lives that in having been lived teach us. “Yes, you can! Even if you do not know what lies ahead, you can.” The gift of confidence.
The Gift of Hope
Senator Kennedy has been a presence for many of us for a half centruy or so. No intent here to repeat all that has been said so well by so many. But his affect on me is summed in a single powerful notion that has been fallow for me in recent years: hope. In a country where massive crises of trust and integrity,confidence, capability, and responsibility have been drawn to the breaking point, I for one am comforted to hear again that voice of promise and potential and progress on things that matter to our society. That voice has long been the timbre of Ted Kennedy. Though he is now gone, his voice remains. I am reinvigorated with hope.
The Gift of Warmth
And then Bud. I’d of course met bud professionally and known him to say hello to when we’d meet, usually on Wall Street in Kingston where we both have offices. Since his death, I’ve learned that he was a remarkably talented person with a legacy of good works and community service. But, I hadn’t known that. What I did know was how the simple experience of greeting Bud would light the moment with a positive energy that would linger, often for the day. Even as I write and picture a Bud Clarke greeting, I smile. The gift of warmth.
Three passings of three great people whose lives in different ways affected many, including my own.
One a quiet explorer who inspires confidence, another the lion of the Senate and enormous accomplishments who voice has rekindled hope, and the third a warm colleague who in a simple moment of greeting could light up one’s day. To each, my gratitude.