Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Reason to Begin Again

Here everybody has a neighbor
Everybody has a friend
Everybody has a reason to begin again....
-Bruce Springsteen

This afternoon I shall make what amounts to my annual pilgrimage to Wardlaw-Hartridge, the school from which Kara, Jill and I all earned our high school diplomas, which put food on the Kenny family table and a roof over our heads for close to fifteen years and the school that - indirectly at least - killed my old man.  The job may not have been the only thing that killed him but its spot on the medal stand is beyond question - even close to three and one half decades after his death. 

I have the distinct pleasure and privilege this afternoon of enshrining a man with whom I have been friends for more than thirty years into W-H's Athletic Hall-of-Fame.  Tom Murray - Class of '86 - is being enshrined because of his remarkable accomplishments in the pool.  I have been the possessor of a bit of a secret that I will finally disclose today - because one and all in attendance later today when Tom is officially enshrined shall learn of it as soon as they hear him speak - he is very goddamned excited about this honor.  He most assuredly earned it.  His appreciation for it - and for all that was done for him and for the opportunities presented to him while he was a kid at W-H a lifetime ago - is palpable.  I am humbled by the fact that I shall - in a very small way - be involved in his very big moment.  A damn good man.    

When I was a much younger man I saw Tom Lankey play football and baseball - first at Wardlaw and thereafter at W-H - as Dad deemed it important to spend Saturday afternoons after Play Group watching the Varsity Football team play.  I have no specific recollection of ever meeting Tom Lankey and given that he graduated six years before I did and while I was still toiling at the Lower School, which back in the day was literally in another zip code, I would make book on the fact that he could not pick me out of a police lineup.  Having watched him play the sports as a boy for which he is being enshrined today as a man in the Hall-of-Fame, I am happy as well for him and his membership in the Class of '13. 

I know for certain that I have never met this year's sole female enshrinee, Sarah Williamson.  Sarah graduated from W-H in 1998.  Given that she attended school while her father was Head of School, which he was not when I graduated in 1985, I presume that the two of us never called W-H at the same time.  I knew nothing of Sarah or of her extraordinary achievements until this year when I became a member of the Hall-of-Fame Committee.  "Impressive" does not do justice to what she did.  As a father of a daughter who is a high achiever I have a keen appreciation for her how father will feel as he presents her for enshrinement.  As a parent, there is nothing better than being present to celebrate the success of your child....even when she is not a "child" any longer. 

Two of the my favorite brave women shall be in attendance this afternoon as well.  In this the thirtieth year since his class graduated from W-H, the late Greg Boff is taking his rightful place in the Athletic Hall-of-Fame.  His great friend Brian Flynn is presenting Greg for enshrinement and Greg's two sisters, Stacy and Dana, shall accept the plaque in honor of their brother.  The Boff Sisters (I refer to them as if they are tag-team or some such thing) handle these moments with unparalleled grace and aplomb.  It is not easy to to what they shall do today:  stand in the stead of one you love, who you lost far too soon, and be flooded with your own memories while others speak of their memories of him.  It makes you smile.  But it breaks your heart anew just a little.  I am thrilled that both Stacy and Dana shall be present today - not only because they love their brother equally as he did them but because each of them is such a study in courage.  There will undoubtedly be some in attendance today who upon their arrival shall be unfamiliar perhaps with the Boffs and what they have meant - and continue to mean - to W-H.  By ceremony's end, they shall be so no more.


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