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Wednesday, March 27 2002

Leaves of grass, continued

Last weekend I shared the burden I was carrying over the previous week's tragic Valley news with my sons and a close friend.

My son Kevin recalled that in his senior class, eight years ago, there had also been a tragic death, and that it happened on the public high school campus when one boy hit his friend forcefully in the chest, not intending to hurt him but more in a comparative show of strength. The boy who was hit collapsed and died of cardiac failure. He wasn't sick or considered out of good physical condition and, like the Valley's Dino, was one of the best liked and most admired members of the class. In a city the size of San Jose (approximately 1 million) such a report has less general impact, though those who knew the victim will never forget him.

On Sunday I told my sorrowful tale to my friend Michael Masterson after church. Before I had time even to prime it, his mind immediately went to the questions I'd raised last Wednesday. "Those who are cut down still as green grass are often the exemplars of their generation," he responded (not quite that concisely), "and in God's way of thinking they may be the lucky ones. We all wither..." and he cited the passage I brought up here yesterday, Psalm 37:1-2:

Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

We all wither, over time, but those who are taken as green leaves are often closer to God, Mike suggested.

David Caldwell reminded those of us old enough to remember him another Nanty Glo senior who died, in 1957, George Sowolla, and this prompted Sally Bogovich to recall another boy from her childhood who was electrocuted while walking home from the swimming hole, Flick's Dam, by climbing on a building that supplied power to the old Lincoln Mine. Likewise, this jogged my memories of Ben Zanin.

Ben Zanin was five or six years older than I was, at least a year older than my brother Gary, a neighbor who lived about half a mile down the road, and a close friend of Gary's. They went into partnership to buy and restore a Model A Ford with a rumble seat, which they actually got running a few times, but never for very long. All of the Zanins were exceptionally nice people and good neighbors, but I thought of Ben as a role model ("hero" was more like to be used then), perhaps the first older young man I considered such. Like Dino, he was also an athlete, I believe in both Blacklick's football and basketball teams, and was always kind to everyone, even little unathletic twirps like myself, never angry or cynical in any of my opportunities to observe.

Like the others we've been considering, he also was cut down as "green grass." I don't remember the details—I believe he died within months after Gary's death when we were absorbed by that grief—but I'm fairly certain it was a brief illness, perhaps cancer, that took him.

I don't intend to continue this thread, but input and memories or memorials are always welcome; write to me or the whole list.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Wide-eyed innocence

A little boy got lost at the YMCA and found himself in the women's locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover. The little boy watched in amazement and then asked, "What's the matter-haven't you ever seen a little boy before?"

—Sent by Sallie Covolo

Lenten thought for the day

Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly the angel who guards you will honor your patience, While a wound is still fresh and warm it is easy to heal, but old, neglected, and festering ones are hard to cure, and require for their care much treatment, cutting, plastering and cauterization. Many from long neglect become incurable. But with God all things are possible.

—St. John Climacus, 525-606

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