SMITH: We should never stop making a difference in the lives of others

Published 10:59 pm Friday, March 7, 2014

By Dan Smith, TPRD Director

Often the thought jumps in my mind that I need to call my father and ask if I can get him something for supper, or if I need to bring some firewood in his house or just to check on him, but in the 1/1000th of a second that thought enters my mind, just as quickly I remember I can not.

I looked up to my father in many ways, but as he passed away almost five years ago, I now appreciate the wisdom he possessed, and how I wish I had taken his advice more to heart.

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My mother and father had their work cut out for them in raising and providing for five children in their busy lives, and as is often the truth, more people can be involved with raising a child or a young man or woman than just parents.

Up until my latter years of high school, I was as lost as a candle lit at noon.

For whatever reason I felt an interest to take Journalism, and my teacher was Mrs. Barbara Swisher. She lit fires in our hearts and unleashed possibilities in our minds, but backed that up with assurances that we could achieve anything, regardless of what paths we chose. She was one of my favorite teachers because I felt she cared about my future and me as a person.

My senior year in 1977, our History teacher Mike Hogan became the fourth head baseball coach in four years, and I learned life lessons in only three months from that man that I still carry with me today.

Coach Hogan was a great leader, a great motivator, a man of integrity and character, the kind of man you would run through a burning building for, because we knew he would do the same for us.

It is not the amount of time you spend with someone, it is the amount of quality, and heart, that you share.

You never know how your words can help someone. During the time we awake until the time we go to sleep, we never know who we will meet, what our conversations will be, what thoughts are going through the minds of others, what strength we can give them through moments of positive conversation. There is enough negativity in this world.

In a previous life I covered sports for this newspaper, and had the honor and privilege of covering games and practices and anything in between with many great leaders, including baseball coaching legend Chase Riddle and head coach of the 1984 football national champions, Chan Gailey.

The qualities of both men that I remember most was not their coaching strengths, but that they took the time to carry on conversations with me not only about athletics, but about anything and everything. They were so respectful and supportive in a time of my life in my early 20’s when I needed guidance.

I cannot remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but there are moments in my life that I remember exactly what someone said, no matter how long it has been.

Fortunately our minds have the ability to erase, block or file away memories that are negative, and sometimes we are able to recall instances in our life that mean something good.

Sitting in the office of Troy University Athletic Director Robert Earl Stewart one day, he shared a quote with me that he had committed to memory, saying, “Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, riches take wings, those who cheer today may curse tomorrow and only one thing endures – character.”

The greatest thing we can hope is that one-day, someone can say, that each of us made a difference in someone else’s life. I know there are many people that made a difference in mine.