I am a John Mellencamp fan, I think it's part of the "if you're a Hoosier" then... But anyway, I love his songs and if you want to know what it's like to grow up and live in rural Indiana, listen to his songs. One of his songs The Real Life off The Lonesome Jubilee (It's the album with Paper in Fire and Cherry Bomb) is one that made less sense to me when I was in my 20's but becomes clearer with every birthday I am blessed to have. Here are the last few lyrics of that song:
"I guess it don't matter how old you are;
Or how old one lives to be;
I guess it boils down to what we did with our lives;
And how we deal with our own destinies;
But something happens;
When you reach a certain age;
Particularly to those ones that are young at heart;
It's a lonely proposition when you realize;
That there's less days in front of the horse;
Than riding in the back of this cart."
As I age, the "It's a lonely proposition when you realize that there's less days in front of the horse than riding in the back of this cart" brings my mortality into focus.
What else brings my mortality in perspective? When icons from local communities pass away. First it was Ted Throckmorton. I realize that we won't live forever, but he was somebody I thought might have a chance. His personality and demeanor were so pleasant to be around. I served with him on the 50 in 50 board that we did for the News and Tribune and here was a guy who had forgotten more than I ever knew about sports in the area and he listened...to me! Not only that, he was comforting and seemed to get a kick out of the fact that he was doing this and enjoyed being around me when discussing sports or eating lunch at Ann's By the River.
Then the recent news of the passing of Pat Hennegan. That's two Jeffersonville sports icons in a short amount of time. Pat was another person who I served on the 50 in 50 board with. Pat was full of sports statistics that he brought to the table. Many of us told stories of athletes through the years who we believed were qualified for this prestigious list, but Pat had stats! Those were hard to argue with. Pat, who was different than Ted, asked me questions during out time together. He wanted to know some of the details of stories of athletes I brought up from Henryville, Borden and Silver Creek.
These are Jeffersonville sports icons that have been lost. You can't help to think that the sports scene will be less without them around (it will), but there are also those guys that are growing up either listening to them or someone else that will be those types in the future who will continue their type of work. There will always be a Matt Denison from New Albany or a Wayne Davis from New Washington that keeps their communities history and stats alive.
But that doesn't make it any easier when we, yes we as a sports community, lose people like Mr. Throckmorton and Mr. Hennegan. No matter the rivalries there is an appreciation for what people do from other communities to preserve their heritage. Throw in that they are interesting and kind human beings and it makes it that much harder when they leave us from this world.
It is a lonely proposition when you realize that you won't live forever, but what really matters in that song is the third line: "I guess it boils down to what we did with our lives". There is no "I guess" Mr. Mellencamp, it is truth, that's all that matters is what we did with this life. Who you touched, inspired or made better besides yourself is all that matters. Because it is those things that will continue on long after they are gone.
So I hope when my day comes that people won't have to lie about me but that they will flood my wife and children with comments and stories the way that these two men's families have been. My goodness these two men will be missed; missed as Jeff sports icons, missed by their families and missed by a 46 year old man who they left an indelible mark on in the short time he came into contact with them.
Rest in peace gentlemen, I hope to share stories again with you one day.