|Bud's the one in Creighton cap|
"Sandy, you have had an interesting year," noted one of my stock-picking comrades.
My knee-jerk answer was a self-reflection that has crossed my mind many times recently.
"I know. I don't get it. I'm actually a very boring person."
There have definitely been Forrest Gump-like encounters in my many ordinary days. As I view nothing in life as a coincidence, the well-planned orchestra of events around me can only be played if I act upon them. Some are good. Some are bad. But all have a purpose. It's up to me to open my mind and heart to both embrace them and then reflect on them.
Over the years this has been obvious when my path crosses with people of perceived high profile. Either a blessing or a curse for me, most times I haven't a clue on the people making up these special statuses. I love to hear people's stories. But the story of Joe-off-the-street carries much more weight in my memory than someone the media or society tells me is important.
Eight years ago there is a story that highlights my ignorance in this area. Invited to a local A-list event, I only knew this to be an A-list event because of the countless times I was reminded by others of the significance of my making this list. Confused but curious, as the event related to a welcoming party for a newly named hockey coach, I gave my RSVP as a Yes.
The same people reminding me of the importance of the event soon shared with me the attendee list, the who's who of the Omaha elite. The venue was a billionaire's 'barn' in the foothills of Ponca, outside of Omaha. I recognized some of the names told to me as we drove to the noted event, but not many. Like Alice entering Wonderland, I just saw this outing as a new adventure.
Arriving at the barn (which was more like an extravagant ballroom), I knew no one. Gathering my pre-printed name tag, I was pleased to discover that my decision to overdress for a barn party was spot on. The attire for this crowd was cocktail party casual. Alone and mingling among the crowd, I noticed an older gentleman who had just walked into the party. Thinking he was a newbie like me, I started a conversation with the kind-faced man. He simply introduced himself as Dean.
I soon found out that he had just moved to Omaha from out of town. Wanting to best acclimate him to the area, we exchanged pleasantries on where he was living and what parts of Omaha he had experienced. After a bit of sharing life, he told me the names and ages of his grandkids and that his first wife had died of cancer.
His new wife was moving things from their Minnesota home and would be joining him shortly. It was a lovely conversation and I found this man to be very friendly and eager to make his new home of Omaha a welcoming spot for his wife. After he noted some of my restaurant recommendations and places of interest to visit, he was pulled into another conversation.
The owner of the barn then took the stage. With everyone's attention, he introduced the honoree of the party to the crowd.
Our new hockey coach in Omaha. My new friend.
Dean grinned at me later as it was apparent I was oblivious to his special status while we conversed. But I think he appreciated the conversation. Authenticity can't be contrived nor can it be made up. And likely it doesn't abound at these A-list parties.
Fast forward to yesterday with a lot of similar stories during these eight years that have passed.
Grant and I went to the much anticipated Creighton-Villanova basketball game, just making it to our seats right before the national anthem. My friends in the seats around me immediately advised that there were special guests in the seat occupants to my right. I glanced over not recognizing the three young men seated there. Not picking up on the subtle comments made referring to the special status of one of the three, I smiled and said Hello to the man sitting next to me.
"Wrong guy, Mom! Terence Crawford is a famous boxer." Grant, to my left, was obviously appalled by my lack of skill in celebrity recognition.
I then gave a Hello to the man in red in the middle of the trio, acting like I was impressed with his celebrity status known to everyone but me.
Robbie, behind me, then nudged me, whispering in my ear.
"Not him. Bud Crawford is the one on the end in the Creighton stocking cap."
Three times is a charm.
Smiling with a wave to the correctly identified boxer of note, Bud smiled back at me.
I sent a text to my brother, Matt, trying to figure out the importance of Mr. Crawford. Matt is always knowledgeable on all things trivia and sports. I knew I could count on him.
Me: "Do you know who Bud Crawford is?"
Matt: "Pound for pound the best boxer on earth right now"
Oh, I thought. That's impressive.
Bud smiled a sheepish and wide smile.
Throughout the game, media came by to interview my neighboring boxing standout. People asked for pictures with him and I enjoyed some interaction with Bud's friend sitting next to me. I photobombed his Twitter post from which his popularity quickly became apparent to me. I didn't know the picture was being posted on Twitter, but it came to my attention immediately as the 16-year-old crowd apparently follows him and notified my ecstatic son. Mom score.
And then the funniest and most Gumpish part of my story happened. The shirt toss during a time out.
Once or twice during every game, Billy Blue Jay and the Jays Cheer Squad throw Creighton t-shirts into the crowd. Carefully wrapped like bullets of cloth, this is a very popular timeout event. People jump up and down to get Billy's attention and then adults wrestle each other to the ground to gain possession of the coveted launched shirt.
As with every shirt toss, I never participate. My practical side knows that I don't need another t-shirt and it is likely the wrong size. So why would I fight those around me, especially the best boxer on earth, to gain a shirt?
Yesterday I followed my same routine as everyone around me was jumping up and down, elbowing each other to capture the prize. Sitting down, I pulled out my phone with crossed legs, cowering to get out of the way and check world events within the shadows of the humans standing around me. Waiting for Billy to pass my section in the stands, I quietly passed the time away.
And then my Gump moment happened.
With my phone in hand with the roars from the excited men surrounding me, the blue bullet of a shirt landed like slow motion through the flailing hands, gently finding its final resting spot between my wrists and phone. With combined gasps, the jumping humans, including my sixteen-year-old son, couldn't believe the bad luck handed to them and how the shirt ended up in my undeserving hands.
Looking up to the noted boxer and his posse, I asked the question.
"Do you want this shirt?'
The answer was a resounding Yes. They were like three kids in a candy shop.
So we took the picture above and I handed the shirt to the man in the blue, whom they collectively decided should be the lucky recipient. They were happy. I was smiling. You can't make this stuff up.
Ordinary days. Ordinary people. Finding collective joy in the small gifts life brings our way.