Sunday, August 17, 2014

I Played Trivial Pursuit With Tatum O'Neal!

Greg Glenn called me this afternoon. I hadn't talked to him since the day he and his lovely wife Loa moved from Houston to Nashville, Tennessee. (By the way, Greg told me to tell everybody Hi at our congregation and school so hey from Greg and I will add Loa!) Several days after the Glenns relocated, I left on my twenty-four day excursion to Vietnam while Greg was settling into his new role as Head Of School at Lipscomb Academy after serving in the same capacity at WCS. We go way back to the summer of 1983 when I came up to Lipscomb University for the first time to work at their prestigious basketball camps run by legend-in-the-making, Don Meyer. Greg was a student assistant, soon-to-be-player in the Bison program and the very first person I met on campus. He is the reason I came to Houston to work at WCS fifteen years later. I was blessed to do mission work with his entire family and teach all three of his kids, and even coach the lovely Amber in middle school basketball. It was with heavy hearts that we let go of Greg and Loa as they moved to new challenges but back to the city where they spent their college years.

And as Greg and I talked, the subject turned to the movie being made about Coach Meyer's life entitled My Many Sons. Don Meyer had an incredible career, including being college basketball's winningest coach in stops at Hamline University in Minnesota and Northern State in South Dakota as well as Lipscomb. But well past the court, he touched countless lives including mine, chronicled in a number of my blog entries over the past nine years. Tomorrow morning, my 2014-2015 middle school Lady Wildcats will have our first practice and Don, who passed away last Spring, would smile knowing we will begin with triple threat and the shooting progression. The basketball was just a small part, though, of his influence. That's why Buster Olney wrote a book about him. That's why he won an ESPY. And that's why they are making a movie based on his life.

Greg told me he has been blessed to be around the early filming the past several days. I professed a little skepticism on the casting of Judge Reinhold, perhaps remembering him in Gremlins and other flicks, as Coach Meyer but Greg told me the fifty-seven year old actor has Don down pat. Greg also told me Tatum O'Neal was in town getting to know Don's wonderful wife, Carmen, in preparing to play her. TATUM O'NEAL!!! You know, youngest actress at ten years old to win an Academy Award! Paper Moon! The Bad News Bears! I am awestruck! You see, during my first two years of camp at Lipscomb, I was still living in south Georgia and could not go home on the weekends between camp sessions. Don and Carmen took me in and made me part of the Meyer clan; baseball games, family meals, birthday parties. One more thing; on several occasions, I played Trivial Pursuit with Carmen and some of her lady friends. She was really good! And one day in the distant future, Tatum O'Neal would be portraying Carmen Meyer to the American public.

I don't know if Carmen ever saw any of Tatum O'Neal's movies but if she did, I'm pretty sure she never dreamed of the connection. Why would she? Our minds are not programmed to think like that. Because of our human limitations, we aren't aware of future scenarios and plot twists to our lives. We don't have the Marty McFly advantage, to travel in time and rectify family grievances before they come to pass. It's enough to live in the present as best we can and make a difference as we know how. You know what? I'm glad I didn't know that Carmen's and Don's lives would become movie scripts in three decades. Undoubtedly, I would have acted differently, feeling as if I was in the presence of greatness which would be captured in theaters and on DVD which had not even been invented at the time. But as I reflect on those long ago summers, shouldn't I act as if everyone in my orbit is important and has value? And do I? I can tell you first person that that's exactly how the Meyers treated so many of us. Like a family member. Like an equal. Like Jesus would treat us. You know, The Golden Rule? And believe me, that's never trivial.

Applicable quote of the day:
"I felt privileged to be a facet of such a jewel in the crown of American cinema."

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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