You had to have been under a rock to miss Ted Williams' story this week. He's the homeless man who is getting a second chance at redemption thanks to a Columbus, Ohio news reporter who stopped and taped the golden radio voice Ted advertised on his cardboard sign beside a busy highway. After years of addictions and livings on the streets, he's getting job offers and has been reunited with his 90-year old mother. Their honest, touching interview on the Today Show this morning had me shedding tears. Happy, warm tears. I have soaked up every report of his progress this week and smiled every time I watched something about him.
I love his story, for the same reasons everyone else does. It's just a feel good story of a man who has big opportunities for the comeback of a lifetime thanks to the curiosity of a news reporter and the viral nature of the internet. But it's more than that. To me, his story is about hope. Despite all of Ted's run-ins with the law and his battle with addictions, he kept his hope for better days alive. And it paid off.
There's a quote by someone whose name I can't recall that goes, "Never destroy a man's hope. That may be all he has." I believe in that. After all, what are we without hope? It's what drives us to study years for cancer cures or to work at feeding children in starving nations. It pushes us to invent things that make life better. It propels us forward, day in and day out. I've never been without hope, so I can only imagine how defeating it must be to be without it. And I often think about it because of my sister-in-law's suicide.
Many times since her death, usually when I'm lying in bed trying to fall asleep or in quiet moments around the house, I wonder what made her lose hope. I try to nail down that one thing that finally caused to her say enough. I run through the various aspects of the last few months of her life, even the final days, and wonder what caused her to stop believing there was a reason for her to go on. It's a dangerous mind game to play because it always leaves me feeling very hollow. And guilty. What could I have said that could have made it better? I'll never know.
Our words have such power, and maybe there was something I could have said or done to make her feel like sticking around. On the other hand, perhaps, there were things I said in the past that actually kept her from giving up previously. It's hard to know. What I do know is that our contact with people can be very powerful, whether we realize it or not, especially for people struggling with demons such as depression or drugs and alcohol. The reporter who stopped to hear Ted Williams' voice said he never imagined the way this story would spiral into a such a big deal and propel Williams into the opportunities that have come his way in recent days.
I suspect we all have contact with folks that result in good things we don't even realize. Wouldn't it be neat if we all took more chances on the Ted Williams' of the world? I wish him the best and hope to hear in a few years that he's still doing well in the world of broadcasting and making his mama proud. I love Ted's story becauses it gives ME hope that good things can happen in a heartbeat, if we expect them.
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