Case Study: Lessons and Blessings – Overcoming Adversity

Case Study: Lessons and Blessings – Overcoming Adversity

To win at business or life, adversity has to be encountered, faced, fought and defeated. There is no other way. No options. You either beat it, or it beats you. Win, or you lose.

Simple. Right?

No.

It’s never black and white. Never win or lose. Something always bleeds over. Always. Sometimes good – sometimes bad. Sometimes funny – sometimes sad. Most times a little of both. But hopefully each experience brings with it life lessons and blessings.

This is one such story –  but I didn’t know it at the time. Like many mystical magical moments in life, it was gone before I had time to come to grips with my own inadequacy. It was gone before the numbness of an ordinary, normal, average life was pierced by the spear of an angelic character, steeled by a life done wrong.

Take no umbrage, no offense, at the point-of-view of the narrator. It’s a personal recollection. A recollection colored by fond remembrances of two spirits sideswiping each other on life’s unfathomable path.

Sometimes there’s nothing sadder than humor.

SMART VS. SMART-ARSE

Several years ago I got fired for being too smart. That was my recollection. Everyone else’s recollection was I was fired for being a smart-arse.

So, I had to find a new job.  My first interview went well (not).  I was promptly turned down for the CEO position at a well-known hosiery company. Now granted, I didn’t have much (any) experience in the creation, production, marketing, sales or distribution supply chain of the hosiery industry. But, being of the gender I am (a manly kilt-wearing man), I was pretty certain I could articulate the benefits and unique selling proposition (USP) of the product in a compelling and profitable way.

REJECTION EJECTION

Upon rejection (there was some confusion upon my departure. The mistaken impression that I was ejected from the premises may have been surmised had one been watching), I forlornly began wandering the streets of Cincinnati, with my head drooped just about level with my navel.

walkingman

Walking like this has some disadvantages. Clarity of vision is one. I ran into something hard, looked up, and before me was … an apparition, an event, a pre-destined meeting, a saint.

A WOMAN IN A WHEELCHAIR.

But Steve, you say to yourself, that’s not terribly uncommon. A little melodramatic aren’t you?

No.

She had no legs. And …

No arms.

She controlled the operation of her motorized wheelchair by blowing through a tube. I was humbled. Dropped low. Deep. My problems were now nothing but a smashed proton in the unfathomable singularity of a black hole.

She was navigating the sidewalks of Cincinnati by herself.

Alone.

To educate people unfamiliar with Cincinnati on how daunting a task this can be, Cincinnati sidewalks were built before sidewalks had been imagined and possibly even before the invention of the wheel. A rut in the sidewalk is typically referred to as an “improvement.”

cincysidewalk

Cincinnati Sidewalk Improvement

I saw her get ready to enter a building and leapt forward to open the door. As I did, she spoke, my apparition, my saint, with an angelic voice.

“Hey, Bozo, what do you think I am some useless quadriplegic?” she said.

I guess even saints have rough days.

TERM OF ENDEARMENT

I considered the reference to me as “Bozo (the clown)” as a term of endearment. Why? Because my face had turned absolute white, my nose vivid red, my hair popped out like a bad 70’s Afro (I used to have a good 70’s Afro … I know the difference).

“I’m sorry, I was just trying to help.”

“You want to help? Get in here and buy something.”

She was the owner of the shop. And, in one of those weird synchronicities not fully explained, but hinted at in Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, she sold, you guessed it, women’s apparel. Mostly hosiery.

Her name was Antonia Maria, and that’s all the personal history I ever really learned about her.

MARKET RESEARCH

I was so overwhelmed, humbled, and awed at the obvious obstacles and adversity that Antonia Maria was overcoming daily, if not nanosecond-by-nanosecond, that I bought 37 pair of every imaginable type of hosiery (under the guise of real-time market research for my next hosiery CEO job application).

Her eyebrows arched a bit (well, maybe more than a bit) when I piled them up on the counter. And, with my usual sophisticated schmoozing aplomb

cave_businessman

I explained I had an extended family.

“Lots of females,” said I.

For nearly a year, once a week, I stopped by her shop and bought hose. We became Forrest and Bubba Gump-ette close.

“Hey Bozo.”

“Hey Antonia Maria.”

Each visit was an inspiration. A lifting up, not sad, not melancholy, but a moving, life-affirming, sharing of the human spirit and journey. To trek through this world as she did, daily overcoming the obstacles (physical, economic and social) and adversity she faced … was truly amazing.

Occasionally she’d catch me in a mathematical obfuscation.

“How many females in your extended family?”

“28.”

“Was 25 last week.”

“Newborns … very fertile, my family.”

RIGHT THING. RIGHT TIME

In addition, she was quite the enterprising entrepreneur, having an in-depth, innate grasp of contextual marketing concepts. Antonia Maria had the incredible knack of saying the right thing, at the right time, to the right person, to move them deep into the buying cycle.

“I’m guessing you’ll need a few extra pair of hose this week then?”

I nodded.

I AM RUDE AND DUMB

Yes, I admit. Freely.  Authentically. Rude and dumb. I honestly throw myself on the altar of “what was I thinking?” I could not, often times, refrain from staring at her when I felt she wasn’t looking. I wondered how she did it.

How she coped. How she smiled. How she woke each day and got out of bed to go to work. And a million other “hows” that crossed my misfiring neurons.

Then, it was over.

She disappeared. Her shop closed. No signs. No explanations. No forwarding address. I inquired, but no one knew anything. I hesitated to do any extensive investigation for fear of what I might learn.

The Eyes Have It

It’s said that the eyes are the windows of the soul. If that’s true, Antonia Maria’s soul was on fire. Her iridescent brown-green eyes absorbed and expressed life. Faith. Spirit. Strength. Hope.

To this very moment, I remember everything about Antonia Maria. Everything so incredibly resilient, hopeful, happy, glad and beautiful she ever said.

HOW DID SHE DO IT?

I don’t know. I’m not smart enough to answer that. Never will be. I couldn’t do it. Too weak.

I do know that Antonia Maria had a vigorous life-affirming charismatic spirit that shone through all her adversities. She had a heart wider than the Grand Canyon that would take on any issue with uncharacteristic straight-forwardness. And …

NEVER

Not once, let me repeat this, not once, did she ever complain about … or for that matter even explain, her physical condition.

If I had to guess how she did it?

Spirit. Heart. Guts. Faith … and life-enabling technologies.

The technological marvels wrought by industry research, development, application and availability that enabled Antonia Maria to face, fight, defeat and triumph over her physical obstacles were, unless you actually saw it, almost ineffable. Every person and company associated, in any way, with these technological life-enabling wonders, epitomizes the oft-quoted lines:

success11

Time passed. time_flies

UNFORESEEN DOWNSIDE

Eventually our relationship had a downside that ultimately gave me the opportunity and skills to overcome an adverse moment in life. Last month, my wife, grandmother, daughter and aunt were rummaging through my basement workshop for “yard sale” items.

HOW MANY PAIRS OF HOSE???

They found 2,093 pair of hose.surprize

When confronted by this gathering storm of frumpettes, I quickly used my marketing abilities to “reposition” this disturbing find and utilized a UES (Unique Explanation Statement) touting the find as in-depth “market-research.” This was supposed to overcome the obstacle of false impression embedded in their minds.

It failed. Utterly. Miserably.

WAR AND PEACE

Only one supporter swallowed the UES – my dog,  Tolstoy.

bulldog1

(Named so not because he looks like Tolstoy, but because he always backs me during war or peace … provided he receives his weekly stipend of Scooby snacks.)

But being the absolute ruler and king of the castle, I decided to imperiously tell the gathering storm of frumptettes to mind their own business.

party_king1

Lunch anyone?

That didn’t work either.

Takes donkeyhorns1

So, I confronted this impending doom of an adverse moment, and took decisive action. I grabbed the donkey by the horns and used a tried-and-true tactic. One that successful Venture Capitalists use almost daily.

And it worked. The tactic?

THE EXIT STRATEGY

 ###

 The Path  feature image courtesy of H. Kopp Delaney. Please visit his site. One of the best artistic talents of our times.

Mark Twain’s Best Writing Was Not Funny

Warm Summer Sun … Shine Kindly Here

Photo courtesy of Phillipp Klinger

Mark Twain was born Samuel Longhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835. He’s known worldwide for his satirical, incisive and humorous writing. Drop-down, rollover funny. But real. Authentic. True-to-life characters . My favorite — the lesser known but illustrious intellectual, Puddin’ Head Wilson.

“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” – Puddin’ Head Wilson

Mark Twain knew words like no other. He knew the power, the majesty, the sophisticated eloquence of just the right word.

The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. – Mark Twain letter to George Bainton, 10/15/1888

Though famous worldwide, Twain’s life was also chock full of misery and personal adversity. His business ventures always seemed to go awry;

“I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.” – Mark Twain

After multiple investments went bad in the 1890’s, Twain was forced into bankruptcy. He went on a worldwide lecture tour to earn money to pay back his debts. While on this tour his beloved daughter, Olivia Susan “Susy” Clemens, died at the age of twenty-four from meningitis.

It destroyed him.

CUT IN STONE

I think I’ve read everything Mark Twain ever wrote. Maybe you have too. But when I came upon the poem Mark Twain engraved on Susy’s headstone, I knew there was no better. Ever.

And they weren’t even his words.

Warm summer sun
shine kindly here;
Warm southern wind
blow softly here;
Green sod above
Lie light, lie light-
Good night, dear heart,
good night, good night.

Mark Twain understood words. Their greatness. Their ability to express an unendurable sorrow. To reveal a timeless love so it glittered with heavenly evanescence.

The words above are an excerpt (slightly altered by Twain) from an obscure poem called “Annette,” written by Robert Richardson, published in 1893.

WORDS

Just words.

They can make you laugh – or make you cry.

Engage or enrage.

Create heroes or demons.

Memorialize life … or death.

They can transport you to other worlds, other times, other places.

In 100 years from now … when green sod lies above, when there is no one left to mourn for you, will something you have said or done, be spoken or written in words so simple, yet unforgettable?

Will you be remembered like a “Hero Going Home?”

End:

The “Secret” is a Trick

The “Secret” is a Trick

That’s right. I said it. The Secret is a trick. And I will expose it at the end of this article. But first some background.

Times are tough…

U.S. unemployment hovers at 8.2%. About 16 million people are out of work, with real numbers closer to 25 million when counting those that have given up looking. Foreclosures are at an all-time high with no real end in the foreseeable future. Estimates are 1 in every 324 houses in the U.S. is in foreclosure. College grads, even newly minted lawyers getting out of law school will have a tough time finding jobs – and most are burdened with student loan debt that a generation ago would have bought a four-bedroom house and a decent car.

ON THAT HAPPY BUNNY HAPPY NOTE

Yes, times are tough. If you’ve lost your job, your house, or your hope for a better future it’s enough to make you feel like a loser.  Make you feel completely alone.

NO PRESSURE – NO DIAMONDS

Losing isn’t a state of mind. It’s a state of non-persistence under pressure.

Losing isn’t a case of bad circumstances you find yourself in – or bad cards you’ve been dealt from the deck of life.

PROOF

Several years ago I did an interview with Dr. Paul Pearsall, who was then an internationally known bestselling author of 18 books. Many of them were New York Times bestsellers. He was a licensed clinical neuropsychologist and one of the most requested speakers in the world, having delivered over 6,000 keynotes. And he was also a frequent consultant to national television appearing on “Dateline,” “20/20,” CNN, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Today Show,” and “Good Morning America.”

Dr. Pearsall acquainted me with a 22-year-old woman. She had just begun her life.

She had just started teaching English Literature in high school.

Then … she was struck down by a drunk driver and was left pentaplegic (unable to move her arms or legs and unable to breathe on her own.) She was on a ventilator.

Life for her was over, right?

Wrong.

At that time, she was writing a book about her experiences. Writing a book on the computer that had been specially adapted to allow her to operate the keys with a stick held in her mouth.

A stick held in her mouth. Let me say that one more time.

She was operating a computer with a stick held in her mouth.

And what did she say about it?

“You don’t have to feel screwed. You can construe. Trust me, that one word has very special power. The dictionary says it means to discover and apply meaning, and what a power that is.

It means your life is all in your mind. I am actually happier and more productive now than I have ever been. I sure have more friends and, as you can easily see, I am totally free from multitasking.”

She still had a sense of humor in the darkest of times.

MOSHA’S STORY

Dr. Pearsall also introduced me to Mosha. Her story is important. Why? Because in life, overcoming adversity doesn’t always mean winning, sometimes it means winning on one’s own terms. Terms that perhaps only you, yourself, can understand.

Mosha was once a dark-haired beauty. But now, a black hollowness surrounded her eyes. She was death-camp, stick-figure thin.

She was death-camp, stick-figure thin because that’s where she was. Her face was swollen and bruised. Beatings were her daily bread.

Mosha was a classical piano teacher. Loved Beethoven.

Mosha had been teaching a student Moonlight Sonata when they came for her. They shot and killed her student but kept her alive. One needs classical music such as Beethoven’s, to uplift the soul and keep spirits soaring when working in a death camp. So they kept her alive.

The Nazi officers asked her to play for them.

She refused.

They asked her.

She refused.

Music was not for a death camp.

And Beethoven was sacred to her.

So they placed both of her hands on a rock. Took turns, made a game out of gaily breaking her fingers, one by one, with their rifle butts.

She could have played.

She could have given in.

Instead she defied.

Music was so sacred to her.

She made her stand, sprawled on the ground in agony. But she didn’t give up her sacred gift. She held onto it. Tighter than to life itself.

And when, through the haze of a misery beyond comprehension, her fleeing life parting death’s lips, she would hear, or think she heard, Beethoven’s music being played in the officer’s club, she stirred … and would say in her teacher’s voice:

Shush! Be quiet now and listen to the deaf man’s symphony. If you listen as he did, you will hear the way to freedom.” – Mosha

THE SECRET

Everyday life knocks someone down. A job lost. House foreclosed on. Life savings destroyed.

Everyday someone is beat up by life.  Paralyzed in an accident. Born with a birth defect. Shot by accident in a random drive-by.

Everyday.

But there’s a secret to help you overcome adversity. There’s a secret to turning things around. To help you overcome that feeling of loss and losing.  I mentioned Dr. Pearsall earlier? I learned about the “Secret” from him.

Dr. Pearsall barely survived birth, conquered among a litany of other obstacles, total blindness, and then finally, cancer – three times. Dr. Pearsall’s triumph over terminal cancer is documented in the bestseller, “Miracle in Maui.”

SURVIVE TERMINAL CANCER

Yes.

He was told he would certainly die of an extremely rare type of cancer that strikes down young and healthy people in the prime of their lives. And, for a little extra good cheer, Dr. Pearsall was also told that even if his cancer went into remission, he’d die anyway. Die from suffocation caused by a deadly virus allowed to attack his lungs by his chemotherapy-and-radiation-weakened immune system.

DOES IT GET MUCH BETTER THAN THAT?

Yes. He was told the terminal good news on a Good Friday.

GEEZ, IS THAT IT?

Nope. That Good Friday, as he walked slowly down his driveway, the ache of cancer eating away at him, feeling lost and hopeless, he opened his mailbox and noticed an envelope marked “Urgent. Internal Revenue Service.”

DEATH AND TAXES

Yup, you guessed it. Selected for a random compliance audit of State and Federal tax records for three years. How’s that for some good cheer on Good Friday?

How did he react?

He laughed.

Laughed so hard he cried.

My kinda guy.

And when I read it I laughed.

Laughed so hard I cried.

THE SECRET 

So … that “Secret” he taught me?

IS A TRICK

The “Secret” was actually a trick . A card trick.

“Life is not a matter of holding good cards,

but of playing a poor hand well.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

Dr. P died 3 times and came back.

The 4th time he didn’t.

But man …. did he play his cards well.

An Affair Shakes the Presidency … In Scandal or Crisis, Character is the Still the Coin of the Realm

An Affair Shakes the Presidency … In Scandal or Crisis, Character is the Still the Coin of the Realm

These are tough times. Unstable times. Uncertain times that will test the vision, spirit and mettle of everyone – in life and in business.

These are times when things could go radically and drastically wrong, or … a person or persons, will step up, and by force of one character trait – mold the future direction of our world in a positive way. It’s a test really.

Do we have what it takes to pass?

Do you?

Sometimes you’re confronted with a scandal or crisis not of your own making and that becomes yourtrue test of character … especially when everyone in the world is looking.

“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

 – Abraham Lincoln

FLUNKING THE TEST

When the test of character is flunked …

  • families and friendships can be ruined,
  • businesses destroyed, and
  • governments brought down.

The story and interview that follows is not about avoiding a scandal or crisis, but how one American President through strength of character dealt with a situation that threatened his presidency, his reputation, his place in history and America’s credibility.

AN AFFAIR SHAKES THE PRESIDENCY

In the mid 1980’s, President Ronald Reagan’s presidency was threatened by a looming scandal – The Iran-Contra affair. His reputation and the ability to lead the United States forward in hopes of ending the Cold War were in imminent danger.

At that critical moment, President Reagan decided to call the Ambassador to NATO, Dr. David M. Abshire, back to serve in the cabinet as Special Counselor.

TRANSPARENCY EXPEDITIOUS (not a disease)

Dr. Abshire’s mission?

Ensure a full investigation of the sale of arms to Iran in exchange for freeing American hostages and the subsequent funneling of those funds to Nicaraguan rebels. And (here’s the tough part) do it expeditiously and transparently, to restore the confidence of the nation in the shaken Reagan presidency.

That phrase sound familiar? To restore the confidence of a nation?

WHY DR. ABSHIRE?

Character. Competence. Commitment. Objectivity. Experience.

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Dr. Abshire co-founded the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. His extensive experience, including service as Assistant Secretary of State and later as NATO Ambassador, gives him a perspective both unique and insightful.

He is currently the president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and also president of the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.Dr. Abshire was Ambassador to NATO where, in reaction to the threat posed by Soviet SS-20 missiles, he was the United States point man in Europe for deployment of Pershing and Cruise missiles. It was this NATO success that convinced the Soviets to sign the historic INP Treaty and withdraw their missiles. Ambassador Abshire initiated a new conventional defense improvement effort so that NATO would not have to rely heavily on nuclear weapons. For this, he was given the highest Defense Department civilian award – its Distinguished Public Service Medal.

Dr Abshire has received the John Carroll Award for outstanding service by a Georgetown University alumnus; the Distinguished Graduate Award of the United States Military Academy; the 1994 U.S. Military Academy’s Castle Award; the Gold Medal of the Sons of the American Revolution; the Baylor Distinguished Alumni Award; the Order of the Crown (Belgium); Commander de l’Ordre de Leopold (Belgium); the Medal of the President of the Italian Republic, Senate, Parliament and Government; Grand Official of the Order of the Republic of Italy; Order of Diplomatic Service Merit Heung-In Medal (Korea); the insignia of the Commander, First Class, Order of the Lion of Finland; in 1999, the Order of the Liberator (Argentina); and in May 2001, the Order of the Sacred Treasure Gold and Silver Star (Japan). In addition to the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal.

Dr. Abshire received his bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

In the Korean War, he served as a platoon leader, company commander, and a division assistant intelligence officer. He received The Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster with V for Valor, Commendation Ribbon with medal pendant, and Combat Infantry Badge. He was awarded his Ph.D. in History from Georgetown University with honors (Gold Key Society). He received a Doctor of Humane Letters from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1992 and a Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa, from the University of the South in 1994.

SAVING THE REAGAN PRESIDENCY

In 1987, Dr. Abshire served as a Special Counselor to President Reagan with Cabinet rank, to coordinate the Iran-Contra investigation, and had authority to meet with the President alone.

THE INTERVIEW

Steve: What was your most memorable moment in the crisis with President Reagan that best showcased his strength of character and determination?

Dr. Abshire: I would say that my most memorable moment with President Reagan was the initial phone conversation that I had with him in December 1986. At the time, I was at Truman Hall, my NATO Ambassadorial residence, and I had read all about the trouble the President was in regarding the sale of arms to Iran for hostages. The President requested I come back to Washington to be his special counselor – with cabinet rank – during this crisis and that I would report directly to him.

There are two very important things about this phone call that show Reagan’s strengths and character as a leader:

The fact that he called me personally and did not leave it to one of his staffers shows just how serious of a situation he was in, and just how important it was to him personally to climb out of this dilemma.

Other leaders in his position – who did not care about setting things right – would have left this job to somebody else. The fact that he didn’t says volumes about his determination to get ahead of this crisis.

The fact that he even requested a Special Counselor to help facilitate the crisis from the White House – with the job of getting everything out with no executive privilege – shows that he was concerned with setting things right.

President Reagan was concerned with his reputation as a leader and didn’t want to offer an opportunity for anybody to impugn his integrity and character saying that there was a cover-up.

 Steve: What was the most important thing you learned from this experience?

Dr. Abshire: The most important thing I learned is that when you get in a hole, do not dig it deeper; come clean, get outside help, and climb out of it.

 If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. 

– Mark Twain

Steve: Examples?

Dr. Abshire: There are many instances of presidents – take Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton for example – that dug their hole deeper until they couldn’t get out.

Nixon did not know about the initial Watergate break in, but he covered up the investigation.

Clinton, instead of admitting to his infidelity at the onset – which is not a crime, made the mistake of lying to a grand jury to hide it from his wife and family and came very close to impeachment.

Reagan, on the other hand, took the necessary steps to save his presidency, which leads me to my second point: the creation of the Tower Board.

Reagan empowered a bipartisan committee to investigate his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal. This step was essential to show the public and Congress that he was serious about investigating any wrong doing that may have happened on his watch. The President could not get out of his hole or create the Tower Board without “reaching out” – both to myself and to other Members of Congress.

By reaching out and involving Congress in the progress of the investigation, the President gave them a stake in its outcome and also a feeling that they were intimately involved in the process as a whole.

Steve: What surprised you most about this experience with President Reagan?

Dr. Abshire: I was most surprised by the practical nature of the President.

For all talk of a Reagan and Conservative Revolution in the early 1980s with its anti-Communist sentiments, I was pleasantly surprised by Reagan’s philosophy – he was not an ideologue. I was impressed with his ability to shift America’s strategy to face the shifting currents of the times and not to strictly adhere to any ideological plank.

Steve: Example?

Dr. Abshire: A fine example of this characteristic was when – after he had referred to the Soviet Union as the “Evil Empire” – he came to an agreement with Mikhail Gorbachev at Reykjavik, Iceland to reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles and to limit production of entirely new types of nuclear weapons.

“Sow a thought; reap an action.
Sow an act; reap a habit.
Sow a habit; reap a character.
Sow a character; reap a destiny.”
– Charles Reader

Steve:   So, in the end – for pauper, prince, president or pope …

Dr. Abshire:  In scandal or crisis, character is always the coin of the realm.

###

Life … Pass it On

It starts with a phone call.

The one moment in life that every parent dreads

A nightmare every parent prays will never happen. A mad rush to the hospital. An anxious eternity. You finally arrive and burst through the doors. A doctor comes out, maybe two. Their faces tell you what you don’t want to know.

It’s over.

Your child has passed. Gone. Grief forever sears the moment in your memory. Overwhelming sadness drags your heart into, and then below, a bottomless pit. A primordial scream forms.

But the medical people are speaking to you.

Your son, your baby, your beloved gift from God, is gone; but these people continue talking. Can’t they stop? They force you to listen.

2abrandon They tell you your son was an organ donor.

Timing is critical. Organ donor? You didn’t know. That’s how Vickie Jackson, a Cincom employee that works with me, found out. Her son Brandon Jackson, recently returned from the Iraq war, in his quiet dignity, had registered to be an organ donor. The medical people asked for her permission to begin the organ donation process.

The primordial scream turns into a “No! No! No!” Not my baby. Her mind went back in time. Where had this precious life gone? So fleeting. Where had the little boy in the blue suit gone?

1brandonbaby So unpredictable. So quickly gone.

There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief.” – Aeschylus

Brandon had grown into a loving, fun, strong, handsome young man.

3jpegbrandonvickie Reliable. Dedicated. He served his country in Iraq.

7brandoniraaq

He often did good deeds, but never mentioned them to his mom. Later, people would tell her stories about how Brandon many times had gone out of his way to help them. “He would just do something kind, and it was between him, the other person and God,” remembered his mom, Vickie.

“It is not length of life, but depth of life.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life.

Fleeting.

Precious.

Unpredictable.

The medical people were still there. Still talking. Asking for her permission to start the organ donation process. Time was critical. Brandon kept secrets. Like all children. Like all children that grow into adults.

4brandongrandma “If you want to confide in someone who will never tell your business, tell it to Brandon,” his grandmother used to say. This secret, revealed at this time, in this way, was almost too much for any person to take. Yet it demanded immediate action on her part. But it was her baby they were asking about. And … he had never told her he was an organ donor.

” In three words I can sum up everything
I’ve learned about life. It goes on.”
– Robert Frost

Life. So fleeting. So precious. So quickly gone. Little things, seemingly minor at the time, so meaningful now. Handwritten special notes of love.

51heymom

Even if they were on a paper plate. The flowers. The flowers—just to let you know he loved you. The thanks.

“The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening,
the third memory,the fourth practice, the fifth teaching others.
– Solomon Ibn Gabriol

The thought and the timing of the organ donation process were horrific. In one of those brief interludes of silence, when lucidity temporarily overwhelms tragedy and pushes back personal grief, Vickie Jackson made the decision. She listened to her memories. Brandon had wanted it; she would follow his wishes. She would honor his memory.

Vicki Jackson would respect his choice. And in doing so – she passed life on.

6jpegmomanbrandon1

“In my heart and mind, Brandon is a noble testimony of giving—still living, breathing and enjoying life somewhere. Can you imagine being in four or five places at the same time enjoying life? That’s how I imagine Brandon. I may not be able to touch him right now, or hear his voice, but I know he is all over the country within some blessed recipient.” – Vickie Jackson, Mother of Brandon Jackson, organ donor.

Life. Pass it On. Brandon did.


Did You Know?

Did you know more that 98,000 people are in need of an organ transplant in the United States right now?

Did you know that each day about 77 people get the organ transplant that gives them a second chance, but 17 to 19 others die because they did not receive an organ transplant?

Did you know as a registered donor you can make a positive impact on the lives of many, and save the lives of 8 people?
Did you know that April is National Donate Life Month in the United States?

Vickie Jackson works for Cincom Systems in Cincinnati, Ohio. Because of her experience she is now a spokesperson and advocate for the Life Center Organ Donor Network. Vickie can be reached by email at vjackson@cincom.com

For more information: www.lifepassiton.org

In Ohio: http://donatelifeohio.org/ohiodonorregistry/index.aspx

In Kentucky: https://www.donatelifeky.org/NewRegistration.aspx

In the United States: http://www.donatelife.net

Throughout the World: Contact your physician or your organ-donation advocate organization for more information on registration.

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