Sunday, August 03, 2014

Hey Blue

"I've heard it said,
                                                                        That people come into our lives
For a reason
Bringing something we must learn.
And we are lead to those
Who help us most to grow if we let them.
And we help them in return.
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today.
Because I knew you."

                                   - Stephen Schwartz 
                                               (From the musical "Wicked")

In my almost 44 years on this earth I have been privileged to know a small group of remarkable people who have had a profound and positive influence on my life and on my character. Besides my dad, there have been 2 other major father figures - the first was Bill Cain, a remarkable man who was a major positive influence through my adolescence. He was the man who introduced me to and mentored me through the world of baseball umpiring. We probably umpired over 100 games together - from the youngest levels of Little League, to regional tournaments across the state.

One of my fondest memories of Bill, is when we traveled to San Bernardino together to attend the regional Little League umpire seminar. It was great to be with him amongst 50 other umpires and really get at the heart of what sports officiating was all about.

Bill passed away just yesterday, very suddenly from what I can tell. My heart breaks for his two sons Mike and Tom, whom I've known since they were little. And I am deeply saddened myself, mostly because I never specifically told Bill how much he meant to me and how much he had helped make me who I am, especially when it comes to dealing with stressed out people.

As a baseball umpire, Bill was always calm and cool - matter of fact, but firm and unwavering, with a deep commitment to fair play and justice on the field. Though I have long ago left the game behind, I carry his principles with me in my daily life. Keeping a level head in the face of unbalanced people on the baseball field can be very tough, but the real world can be much more dire. I am so glad that I had the game in my youth to work through confrontations, and I'll be forever grateful that Bill was there to show me the right way to do it. I am a much happier and balanced person than I was at age 13 when I met Bill, in large part because he gave me the tools to deal with emotional dysfunction being thrown in my face.

And I know, that even though I never specifically thanked you Bill, and oh how I regret not messaging you on facebook or even shooting you a text to tell you this - I know, as with all men who are genuine - men who are indeed 100% "real men" as you are; that the words didn't need to be said.

But I'll say them here, for his boys Mike and Tom. I want to make sure to add my voice to the chorus of praise for this remarkable man who undoubtedly has touched many many more lives in ways as profound as mine -

Thank you Bill Cain, you changed my life for the better when I needed it the most and you will be missed terribly.

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