Friday, January 7, 2011

Why I Love Ted Williams' Story

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.


Louisiana Belle said...

Boy, your post really hit home with me. So beautifully written. Thank you.

Right before Thanksgiving my son had an overdose of prescriptions drugs. He says it wasn't intentional, but he was depressed, so who knows? He has been struggling his whole life, and although my family and I have tried our best to make him feel loved and wanted, there is something deep within him that either can't accept it or won't. One thing he did say to me the next day was "Sometimes I need more than my mother's love, ya know?" Broke my heart. Long story...

As I watched the Ted Williams story unfold, and saw his "audition" video as a homeless person, I wondered if that was how my son was going to end up. I prayed not, and it felt like God was not listening.

Then last night my son showed up at my house like his old self, happy, loving, engaging with heart overflowed.

Yes, there has to be hope. I have lived through that. I'm sorry that you are beating yourself up about your sister-in-law, but I'm sure she would not want you to do that. Sometimes the pain is so great and so difficult to live with that you just want to escape the pain. I've been there a few times myself. I'm sure you did all you could for your sister-in-law. I am sorry for your loss and the pain and guilt you are living with.

Kelley with Amy's Angels said...

I, too, love this story. So inspiring!


Marcie said...

Yes - Ted Williams' story has captivated my heart as well. And - you've written about 'hope' so beautifully. sorry about your sister-in-law. What a legacy to leave behind.

The Church Lady said...

Thanks for posting, Hula. I heard about this story, but did not see the interview. It truly is a heartwarming story. I hope Ted is true to himself.

J.G. said...

You're right, Hula, we can do so much for each other, to give hope, encouragement and the sometimes elusive second chance. Even small things can have a huge impact.

I'm sure you were a loving support to Sissy many times, probably more times than you know. I believe that sometimes a person's pain is just more than they can bear.