Monday, March 29, 2010

The Circle of Life

Yesterday was the memorial service for Herb’s high school coach and mentor, Richard Sawyer. “Coachy”, as Herb fondly refers to him, taught at Herb’s alma mater, Thayer Academy, for nearly 50 years, and kept in contact with former students for years afterwards. I was fortunate to have met Coachy and his wife last October, when Herb and I paid them a brief visit on our way to Thayer’s Homecoming weekend. Sadly, Coachy’s health was failing and his memory was getting a bit foggy, but he still remembered coaching at Thayer and many of the students he mentored, including Herb. They enjoyed reminiscing about track meets, chatted about their mutual love of music, and just enjoyed each other’s company. His face lit up and I could imagine the faces his now-nearly-blind eyes were picturing as they chatted. It was a lovely picture of a teacher-student mentoring relationship turning into a friendship between adults.

So as we pulled into the parking lot at Thayer and I carried Ryan into the gym named for Coach Sawyer, I couldn’t help but wonder who his mentors might be in the years to come. Will he be an athlete taken under the wing of a coach who cares as much about him as a young man as as a competitor? Will he be a scholar, encouraged by a particular teacher to take his education further than a bachelor’s degree? Will he be an artist, or a musician, or a dancer whose passion is fueled by a teacher who feels the same passion for performing? I can only hope that he finds someone as caring and giving as Coachy. And I hope that he may be able, one day, to give as heartfelt a tribute to his mentor as Herb did to his.

And maybe someday he might even take a younger man under his wing and become the mentor who touches and guides another, in the ever-continuing circle of life.

Coach Richard V. Sawyer, 1916-2010

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