Sunday, May 31, 2015

Pep Talk: "Ray-Roll's Heading West!"

“He still calls me Ray-Roll except when his buddies are around.” That comment came from a beautiful young woman sitting across from me recently over dinner at The Cherry Cricket. Along with darling wife, it’s one of our favorite spots to hang out with my daughter. Now a high school graduate.

My goodness, how time flies. Where did the last 18 years go? I can remember encouraging the little diaper-clad tyke to “scooch” her way backwards down the steps of our Congress Park home on Denver’s near east side. Then ballet. Volleyball. More volleyball. Boys. More volleyball. Boys. More volleyball. Oh, and a cool community service project “Clicks For A Cause”, that brought humanness to the growing homeless problem in Denver.

When she was little, “Rachel, angelito mio” (Spanish for “my little angel”) was a frequent favorite saying of mine for this blue-eyed cutie. Whenever I mutter it these days, or any other goofy stuff just to bug the honor roll student, those big eyes just roll. OMG.

The “Ray-Roll” comment mentioned earlier comes from her younger brother. He’s now nine years old. As a little dude he struggled to pronounce “Rachel” and just landed on “Ray-Roll.” It has stuck, except as the years progress, as does the peer pressure, it has with his buddies within earshot, become “Rachel.”

Watching the standout volleyball player walk across the stage and accept a diploma from Denver East High School created a blitzkrieg of memories. I know there are many of you out there experiencing the same. Whew. They have achieved a milestone. We have too many kids these days not getting that far. That’s sad and a topic for another day. As the University of Oregon-bound photography buff exited the stage clad in cap, gown and tassel, a quick prayer of thanks for her health, good choices and work ethic floated from my heart.

If we’re really lucky, the future will hold many more magical moments. The law of averages suggests that the longer we live, misfortune may join magic for the journey. Stuff happens. We all know it does. That’s when we must shift to having faith our children, moving on to new frontiers, can navigate the storms life will most likely bring their way. Or, darn it, the storms they venture into despite warnings to seek shelter. Especially when it comes to relationships.

It’s a favorite topic on Thursday mornings at the Denver Rescue Mission. I cherish spending time with the guys on the comeback trail. Encouraging them to become more fitness-minded, dependable and productive men who seek a stronger cord to families, work and community. So much of success or failure in that quest begins and ends with whom we associate with. Social networks.

Beloved flesh and blood disappeared into a sea of fellow graduates. Another prayer, universal and available to all, crashed from cranium: “Keep making healthy choices. Have fun. Be a student, not victim, of life’s experiences.” 

Ray-Roll’s heading west. Go Ducks!

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