Monday, September 3, 2012
A couple of my mentors
Recently a couple of exceptional mentors of mine left this world: Coach Brian Rhoades and Lee Dirks.
Here is what I wrote on Facebook when I learned the news of Coach Rhoades:
Like many from the ESA community, I am floored and saddened by the passing of Coach Brian Rhoades. He taught me how to build a lean-to, how to post-up and how to tell a corny joke and still get people to love you, in other words: he taught me how to survive.
When I showed up early in the morning at ESA this past year, I wandered the campus thinking, "Nothing is the same here." Then I heard a yell across the grounds, "Cam!" There was Coach full of smiles, stories and questions about me and my family. He escorted me to the chapel and sat with me. We laughed. I love you, Coach. Thanks for all you gave. You were a role model to much of the life-coaching I do today.
I also left the following personal reflective comments on my status:
(1) I remember Brian showing us how to build a sweat lodge. Put some shotputs on the beach, build a fire around it, light the fire, dig a big hole for everyone to sit in, then dig a smaller hole in the big hole for bench seating, cover the holes with a plastic tarp, carefully get the shotputs in a bucket and into the hole, pour water on the shotputs, take the steam for as long as you can, a little longer ... just a bit longer - then run and jump into the cold lake. That's life
(2) Brian on being a role model [paraphrasing]: The first time I recognized what it meant was when I had Nick on my shoulders. I spit off to the side. Then immediately, I heard and saw a little spit follow from above me. "Oh man, this little guy is going to watch everything I do and that is how he'll live his life." I decided I'd better live a better life for his sake.
On August 27th at 11:42pm, former ESA student Lee Dirks commented on my status about Coach: He was absolutely a special person, and I'm shocked and saddened at his unexpected passing. What a loss. Tragically, Lee and his wife would lose their lives the next day.
This is what I wrote for Lee:
When I failed my tenth grade year, I was an academic mess. The school noticed that I had never even passed 9th grade English. In order to go back to the 10th grade, I would have to take summer school for 6 weeks on English alone. M-F 8am-...12pm with a class of 3 other students and then 1-3pm one-on-one tutoring with the instructor, Lee Dirks. Lee gave me so much during that summer: time, energy, patience, an appreciation for depth of exploration, an understanding of the possibilities in comparative literature, an introduction to one of my favorite poets, Wallace Stevens and one of my favorite books, Nine Stories by Salinger (for those in the know - Lee's first daughter is named Esme.) Most importantly Lee was the spark that ignited my successful academic career and focus on studying literature. He took me at my lowest and helped me start the climb. Although I spent less than 200 hours with Lee, I can't stress enough how important that time was to turning my life around in a positive direction.
Lee and his wife passed away yesterday on an adventure in Peru leaving behind two young daughters. He was only 46. His last FB update was, "I just ate the hindquarters of a guinea pig." May we all leave this world adventuring!
Please make every moment of your life meaningful. I feel fortunate that these are two people who I had the opportunity to tell how special they were to my life and shaping me in positive ways. Lee responded to me once, "I am so glad that summer had a positive effect on you. And it wasn't me as much as it was YOUR willingness to accept the readings and give them a chance. You had to think about them and apply the concepts. I just put them out there for consideration!" Brian shared the same sentiment with me once as well. These gents just saw it as doing their job: making the world a better place through compassion, instruction and human connection.
Brian and Lee, I will be a better mentor because of your influence on me and my recent reflections of what remarkable people you both were. My thoughts are with your families and friends.
at 8:29 AM