Thursday, December 28, 2006

Looking Up At President Ford

I heard about President Ford passing away early Wednesday morning, and I recalled meeting him many years ago as a child. He was visiting Hawaii and my mother took my sister and me to the airfield in hopes of catching a glimpse of him as he deplaned.

My mother has always taken us to witness big events like rallies, dedications, inaugurations and parades. We saw the children arrive in Hawaii after they were evacuated from Vietnam, and we even went to Andrews Air Force Base to see the Iranian hostages arrive after they were freed.

On the day I met President Ford it was a bright and beautiful day. We saw him get off the plane, wave, and then walk straight towards the crowd of well-wishers. As the crowd tightened, I slipped down, under and around anyone I could, and popped up right in front of the President. He looked down, smiled, and shook my hand. I knew nothing of politics, Watergate, or any of the turmoil Americans had endured the few years before that moment. All I knew was that I got to shake the hand of the President of the United States. Cool.

To top off the experience, a local TV news reporter saw me shake his hand and came up to interview me. I have no recollection of what I said, but it must have been expectedly inane blabbering from an eight year old little boy, because I do remember it lasting only a couple seconds.

I told my girls about the experience while we were all in the car yesterday and noticed the flags at half-staff. They asked me how long ago that was, and I responded twenty years. I quickly corrected myself and said that it was actually more than thirty years ago. I then spent the next several minutes pondering, yet again, at the speed life flies by. Thirty years. I am getting old. Life is fleeting. What really matters? Does my job, or lack of one, matter? Does my house? My money? It will all be gone. Every single material thing, every single thing I am seeing right now as I drive by will be gone with time.

What really lasts? Find that, and put your time and efforts there.

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