For some of us, closing out the year 2013 means saying goodbye. Death is never pleasant; we have treasured moments to remember, but it’s not the same as having your flesh-and-blood loved one with you.
(How thankful I am not to have lost anyone close to me this year!)
Because I’m a people-oriented person though, my attention is usually caught by the newspapers, magazines and television that run retrospective pieces on famous or infamous or otherwise well-known people who’ve left us during any given year. These lists include names of people with whom we may be familiar as well as names of some who are unknown to us.
One list that attracted my attention was a list offered on the World Magazine website. This alphabetical list included six pages of names (and a small bio for most). As one might expect, a few names included on the list were people whose web of influence touched me in some way. I pulled out ten names that meant the most to me.
What girl in the 60s and 70s did not know Annette Funicello? As a youngster, she shone brighter than most of the other Mouseketeers. She sang, danced and won the hearts of viewers everywhere. For me, she was a picture of grace, always smiling, exuding sincerity and warmth, a role model to emulate.
Not everyone will know who Dr. Howard G. Hendricks (Prof) was, but I remember him well. When my Beloved attended Dallas Theological Seminary, Prof was a favorite instructor and along with his wife Jeanne, they generously hosted students and wives in their home, teaching us as we shared delicious meals together.
The next name might seem a bit odd: Tom Laughlin. This actor and screenwriter (many other things as well) brought Billy Jack to the screen when my Beloved and I were young married folks. (One of my school classmates had a bit part in the film, so naturally I wanted to see the movie.) My Beloved and I found the film sort of campy.
Being a gal who grew up in St. Louis, the name Stan Musial was a household name. He started his career in 1941 with the Cardinals. He had a restaurant (Stan & Biggie’s) he operated until after I left the city for college.
One of the pivotal books I read during my early years of marriage and parenting was Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman by Anne Ortlund. I never knew her personally but her book influenced me to train (discipline) my inner person for the purpose of developing true beauty.
My love for music is embedded in my soul. My parents were early mentors, especially my daddy. He loved to hear George Beverly Shea sing the sweet hymn How Great Thou Art, and I pretty much cut my teeth hearing this song as well as others Shea sang (I’d Rather Have Jesus, The Wonder of It All etc.). My daddy often sang solos in church (an occasional duet with me) and though he was mostly self-taught in music, I always thought he sounded a lot like Shea.
When you’re married (as I am) to a lover of sports, the name Pat Summerall will be familiar. Of course his connection to our home state doesn’t hurt, but I just remember sitting with my husband (again, we were young married folks) viewing football and hearing the genial Summerall explain the game to me. I learned a great deal from him.
Margaret Thatcher of course was a role model for many women, particularly those of a conservative persuasion like myself. As first female Prime Minister in England, the Iron Lady inspired me with her tough-minded (but always ladylike) approach to politics and government. Her friendship with President Ronald Reagan increased my admiration for her even more.
Finally, I must mention golfer Ken Venturi. (Again, being married to a lover of sports and most especially a lover of golf, I’ve learned to love the game myself.) Since Venturi’s actual golf career ended in 1961, he is most memorable to me via his distinctive broadcasting voice. Yes, I’ve even learned to watch golf with my Beloved … though I much prefer to play the game instead of watching it on television. Listening to Venturi in the broadcast booth helped his love for the game spill over to me.
There’s another golfer in the list − Miller Barber − and while I recall his name and that he was a golfer, that’s about all. (My Beloved could probably regale me with stories of the man’s career. I can’t.)
So, we say goodbye to these men and women, influencers all. I am grateful for the impact each had on me. Heeding this wisdom from Mark Twain, may we each live fully now, today and each tomorrow God gives us: “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”