Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pep Talk: "Out Of This World Success"

“One of the cool things growing up was knowing all my buddies loved that my dad had a tank.” Priceless.

And one of many funny, poignant and heartwarming comments heard as your knucklehead scribe sat, with many others, for remembrance of Pierre (Pete) Guignon. Second son John Guignon’s eulogy wrapped up a beautiful funeral Mass for an 88-year-old man who left a lasting impression on everybody who ventured into his world.

I was lucky and blessed to know the collector of military vehicles, including a tank, for almost 40 years. Pierre’s oldest son, Pete Jr., “Re-Pete” to family, has been a dear friend since college days. Through that beautiful connection, yours truly grew to know the family well. Parkinson’s challenged a cherished buddy’s father, and a stroke terminated the respected man’s life. Nothing was, or will, EVER quench a spirit for living life to its fullest. That attitude is alive and well in five children, grandchildren and others the devoted husband influenced in a remarkable journey.

In encouraging audiences during live Pep Talk presentations, this aging jock sometimes tells the story of “Defining Our Dash.” We all have our days of birth and death. For a beloved Kansas City Chiefs’ fanatic named Pierre Jules Guignon they are January 3, 1928 and June 17, 2016. A man born in America’s Great Depression, passed, ironically while out to dinner celebrating 64 years of loving marriage to his amazing wife, Peggy. The numbers? 1928-2016. What about the dash? That’s where the real story lies. It’s one to exalt.

The successful salesman never met a stranger. The faithful man rose each morning and, first thing, dropped to knees in thankful prayer. The devout Catholic attended Mass daily until, in later years, Parkinson’s debilitating fallout made it difficult. His faith was unshakeable.

Grandkids called him “Papa.” He was an awesome family man. Adored. The Pierre and Peggy Guignon’s loving touch spread far beyond the kids, grandkids and great grand kids. It spread to goofs like me. For convenience in getting to a labor construction job, I spent an entire college summer crashing at their warm family pad in mid-town Kansas City. The Guignon’s welcomed me like a third son, including Peggy’s early-morning breakfast inquiries like, “Mac, why do you and Pete think it’s a good idea to stay out so late?” 

That’s a story for another day. Back to my buddy Pete’s father, Pierre. I could go on and on about what defined this man’s dash. It boils down to four qualities that would serve us well. The life-time Kansas City resident’s spirit oozed with devotion to faith, family, friends and fun. Impressive indeed.

These days, we know about airport security lines. They suck. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is trying to help with an alternative called “Pre-Check.” After paying for and passing a background check, we can zip through security rather quickly and avoid the frustration of long lines.

In terms of credentials, if getting into heaven is similar to getting on an airplane, the story behind our dash is important. What’s the background reveal? This much I know about Pierre’s. It will certainly flash in big neon lights: “PEARLY GATES PRE-CHECK!”

This week, let’s honor and emulate a man’s stellar effort and example. It may help us travel through life with similar, out-of-this world success!

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