Wednesday, June 18, 2008


A few months ago I was hosting a workshop for SCORE when a guy from our old Ward in Sugarhouse walked in. It was like seeing an old friend again. During the breaks we got caught up on our families and I felt I had been transported back to another time. Then he unleased a bombshell. "Did you hear about Jonathon? He committed suicide a few months ago. He was married ya know, but he didn't have any kids." The news was a complete blow to my gut and I was sick the rest of the week.

Jonathon was a really fun kid. We met when I became the new Scout Master and in the beginning we really butted heads. It turns out that the "core four" had run out the last three Scout Masters. It was a power struggle for the first few months but as time passed we really got along well. We grew our unit from four boys to thirteen and of those boys only TWO had both parents. Over time my calling became much more than just Tuesday night activities. Some of these guys would come over for hours and Lisa made sure that each one felt like they were a part of our family. They often came unannounced and during all hours of the day and night. One of the things I learned is that I could really find out what was going on in their lives over a big gulp from the 7-11. I became a father figure to almost all of them and I really LOVED my time there, and each one of those boys too. I called them "my kids."

When I went to graduate school in Ohio I lost touch with a few of them. One night I got a phone call from Joe, the leader of the core four. "Hey COACH! Me and Brandon and Jon are coming to New York to drive a car back to Utah. Can we come see you?" I was delighted! We had them for two days. I showed them around campus, took them to class with me and got them into the luxury boxes at the football stadium. It was awesome to know that I had enough of an impact on them that they would spend part of their roadtrip with their old Scout Master.

So it was with extreme sadness that I learned one of them had passed. I just felt BAD and I've had a hard time getting past it for the last few months. Part of that changed tonight.
Tonight I got a call from Daniel, one of my kids from West Jordan. In that Ward I was the Varsity Scout Leader to some AWESOME kids. But of all of those kids Daniel was the most volatile. He always had a hair trigger temper (he got ejected from three basketball games one season and had to see our Stake President to get permission to play again. One time he chucked the basketball at the Ref who called him for a foul...) I kept telling him "Dan, you can't do that! All of these kids look up to you and when you lose it like that, you rock THEIR world too. No one will EVER follow you into battle unless they know you can take any punch and still remain calm in the face of extreme adversity."

For the next three years I coached these guys our team taking first place in Stake and in my last year in that Ward we took third in Region. Almost all of those guys had looked me up for invitations to their mission farewells and homecomings. But Dan had kind of dropped off the face of the earth and no one knew where he was or what had happened to him. So it was quite a surprise to have him call. When I asked him what he was up to he says "Well Coach, I'm growing up!" He was sooo excited! It turns out that he is getting married in September and wanted to call to invite me to his wedding! "I'm getting married in the Temple Coach and I want you to be there." I have been floating all night long!

I have a theory that when we pass to the other side we will stand with our Maker and review our lives together. A big part of the movie that we will watch together is how each of us has interacted with others, and how that influence (good or bad) rippled through their lives, and through THOSE lives. That thought oftens guides a lot of my decisions and when this life is over for me I'd love to know how my help, love, suggestions have benefited others. I hope that I will have been more of a positive impact on other peoples lives than negative ones. I'd like to believe that I have sent out good ripples.


Faye said...

You have send out good ripples in my direction. You have made a difference in my life! I'm glad that I get to call you cousin :)

Ali said...

This email really made me smile and made me sad at the same time. It's so true that you never know the impact you have made on the lives of others. And you HAVE been a good influence, if only in the lives of your children and your family. They all love and respect you, and I know I feel the same way.

I mean, I have a better relationship with you then I have with several members of my own family. That must mean you are doing something right. (Or that they are just A-holes. Both of these is probably true)

Anyway, this email is great. And I'm sure you've made a great impact on hundreds and thousands of people. Keep Rippling!!

Lisa said...

You have been every kid's favorite youth leader! From Scout Master to YM, you are the fave. I feel like we raised the YM in our ward in Sugarhouse for a good 5 years. What other teenagers want to spend the weekend at their Scout Master's house and sleep over there for an all night party on New Year's? You have a way of connecting with teenagers. Not everybody can do that. I am so excited for Daniel and to know he straightened up and made good choices. That's gotta make you feel good!

Abigail said...

You and I just understand each other...your writing I totally get, even though I have to gasp sometimes because you are just whatever you say goes! Thanks for being a awesome family!

Anonymous said...

I just hope you're always practicing two-deep leadership!!!

Your ripples have always been a welcome addition in my life.

Love you, Kaiser