Friday, December 3, 2010

Shoes of Patience -- Jack W.

It always has been the case in my life that when good fortune takes aim, it materializes in the form of a person. So it is with Jack W., who has been a mentor and co-worker to me for nearly eight years. His days revolve around the efficient and expert management of rugged stuff: machinery, grime, and sweat -- lots of sweat. It is in this industrial landscape of a "man's world" -- a harsh backdrop of enormous steel tanks and grease and pipes and valves -- where Jack has taught me to hold my own. While I only can guess at the true extent of patience he has expended in that eight-year-long process, I know the depth of my gratitude for it.

Jack is devoted to his family, his job, golf, and the Baltimore Ravens. He battles arthritis in his knees, his back, and a shoulder; yet, regardless of the very physical demands of his work, he perseveres through pain and discomfort with a perpetual sense of humor and a precise measure of no-nonsense professionalism. As co-workers, we've shared successes and disappointments; we've laughed with and at each other; we've lamented to and about each other; but, in good times and bad, Jack's patient support has not failed during my learning process.

To Jack W., my mentor and friend: tomorrow I will travel three miles in support of finding a cure for arthritis. If you don't mind, I'd like to borrow your shoes while I run. I know they will not fit my feet, because they already overflow with patience and perseverance. But, I will carry them with me. With every stride from beginning to end, they will remind me to focus on your example, and to hope for relief in our lifetimes -- relief that will allow you to climb the hill at work with pain-free knees, to gather up your grandchildren with a pain-free back, and to swing a golf club with a pain-free shoulder.

Here's to the next mile!

Oh, and Jack ... one more thing ... Go, STEELERS!

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