The Chicago Blackhawks had a little bit to wake up to this morning and probably best they did so on the West Coast. Though I can admit, being here and seeing the motorcade head down clark and addison was something to behold – the news of Stan Mikita’s health was the worst news of the day. Not because I hadn’t heard, but because the papers hadn’t officially reported on it. Until this morning, I didn’t have to accept it.
We will all grow old and our bodies will handle the elements of that transition the best it can – some will handle it better than others – these things we have no control over, which is why the other intangibles in life, the things we do have control of become so important – especially as we’ve entered the ladder stages of life. The Chicago Blackhawks’ all time points leader and former Captain Stan Mikita has officially been diagnosed with a specific form of Dementia, known as “Lewey Body” dementia. Sure, we haven’t lost him yet, but moments like these serve an immense purpose in putting life into perspective.
As with Ernie Banks, Mikita played his entire career for one club and one city – that team was the Blackhawks and that city was Chicago. Mikita helped bring the Stanley Cup to Chicago in 1961 along with his teammate and statue-mate Bobby Hull, whom has coined him the “pound for pound” greatest player of all time… the similarities between Mikita and Banks are undeniable, even without banks earning a World Series ring, let alone a post-season appearance.
Sure they were admired by those that knew of them, but when those same people actually got to know them… that’s when those intangibles became so very crystal clear.
Da Windy City
“… as I got to know him, I realized just how great a person he was…” Marian Hossa said of Mikita to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times. Jonathan Toews continued that sentiment with similar words to those of Billy Williams this morning, “He still takes the time to talk to everybody. He found ways to make other people feel good about themselves and feel special…” he continued. Many today that had spent any amount of time around Ernie would attest… “People would find that after spending an hour with Ernie, that they spoke more about themselves and their lives than they did about him and baseball… and they all left glowing, with a smile on their face.”
We often hear accounts from many people about their romance with sport. About how they remember “so and so” and their home run, late goal, or returned kick off for a touchdown. What we hear less and less of as the years grow on the calendar, is about those that truly change lives. About those that embolden others, even strangers, to strive and accomplish things they never imagined they could. Life is a special thing, you could be a professional athlete, a plumber, the bartender, the banker, the cop, the fireman, the dog walker or the grocer – but it all remains the same. We all, each and every one of us are human. It’s our behavior to each other, the lessons we instill in later generations and our understanding for life itself that make us special – that make us superstars in our own right.
Athletes like Ernie Banks and Stan Mikita remind us just how easy being better than we were the day before actually is…
The sun will always come out tomorrow… it’s just your job to remember that. My late Grandfather, whom played professional baseball in his youth and spoke with Mr. Banks on occasion always reminded me… “What you are is Gods gift to you, what you make of yourself, is your gift to God.” Today again, I mourn what I, what we, are now missing in the world. But I also am vividly reminded of all I, of all we, can bring to it.
I wish you all the best, in health, in love and in life. God Bless.
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