Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thank you Tony...

Last week a friend of mine lost his Dad to kidney failure. It was a long process and he put up one hell of a fight from all accounts. He was a good man, and there are many people mourning his loss these days.

Back in the day I was a member of Boy Scout Troop #186 based out of Roseville, MN. We were not your typical scouting troop. We cared little about merit badges, and we hardly ever wore our uniform shirt much less the necktie. What we did focus on is character and building confidence and useful life skills. We didn't care much for the book and the status quo, yet we were probably some of the best damn scouts that ever came out of that organization. If you were lost in the woods, broke something out in the middle of nowhere, or needed to survive a few days away from civilization, you should pray someone from our troop was with you.

Tony was a huge influence on all of us. He wasn't polished; he made you do things on your own, because that was the only way you were gonna learn it and/or get better at it. He told it like it was, and if you were being a dumbass or slouch, he'd let you know. He was the assistant Scout Master in our troop, and even though he didn't quite look the part, I know he took that title seriously.

If you pulled your weight, didn't complain, and did a good job, you were invited to be a part of the inner circle in that troop. Slackers weren't wanted. I managed to get in that group and felt honored to be able to go up to where the leaders tents were at the campgrounds and sit in their circle of chairs and just BS for a few hours.

That troop, and Tony's influence, laid the foundation for the person that I am today. I didn't have a whole lot of confidence when I started scouts, but I sure found some quick. I never made it to Eagle Scout by my own choosing. One of the things supposedly that played into whether or not you got that level was your character, and there were plenty of examples of people getting it in our troop that should not have gotten it if that was truly taken into consideration. So I chose not to do all the tedious merit badge requirements for it. I remember Tony being one of the ones disappointed when I said I had no intention of fulfilling the requirements for this. But when I told him why, he didn't try to change my mind. He accepted it even though he didn't like it, because I had made a choice based on my feelings and not because I was being lazy.

I turned 18 and left the troop, went off to college, but managed to stay in very distant touch with Tony through my Dad and also the Haunted Shack (a fundraiser Tony helped make me a part of for Special Olympics up in Duluth, MN). I learned of his illness after it had taken quite a toll on him, and was fortunate to hang out with him for a weekend last summer. He was tired and run down then, but still battling and still the same Tony spirit wise. When I learned of his passing last week, it saddened me greatly. The world lost a good man.

I don't believe in heaven or hell. I don't believe that after we die we live eternally in some beautiful field somewhere. But I do believe in a persons spirit, and each of us has energys of sort that can't be seen or heard. But they are there. Tony's pain is at an end, and I take comfort in knowing that he is now resting peacefully.

Thank you Tony. I hope that all of us that were scouts under you made you proud, and I will honor your legacy with trying to continuously better myself as the years go by.

You will be missed.

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