The father of my grade school classmate passed away this past week. His daughter and I spent eight years growing up together in Elkhart, Indiana. When I learned of the news, I felt compelled to tell her this story. After sending it, however, I realized that it’s a great story for everyone because it shows what a difference one life can have on another. Here is what I shared with her about her wonderful father: 

When I was on the golf team at Notre Dame, I used to spend a lot of time working on improving my game late into the evening as I listened to the marching band practice in the distance. As I was doing this one evening, an unusual blast of sand hit me in the face and something got into my eye. Putting my clubs away and hurrying to the dining hall before it closed for the night, it kept getting worse and worse. It began to hurt so badly that I called my mom (from a pay phone – remember pay phones!) and she called your dad.

At some ridiculous hour just before midnight we met him in the parking lot of his old office there on the south side of Elkhart. I joked with my mom as we saw his headlights appear that it was so quiet and desolate that it felt like a covert drug deal or something. Though I was laughing a little, at the same time I was embarrassed and felt guilty about putting both my mom and your dad through all this. Mom of course was fine. She only cared about helping me. What really put me at ease was your dad. He looked tired but he couldn’t have been more kind and gracious.

It turns out that mixed into the sand was a tiny sliver of metal. He took it out of my eye and cheerfully showed it to me. My relief was immediate and so was my gratitude.

Your father’s kindness and generosity made a deep impression on me in that formative moment of my life. I determined then and there that I would like to be the same kind of guy who gets out of bed in the middle of the night to help a person in need. For the past thirty years I’ve tried to be that guy for others.

Good old Doc Boling of Elkhart! May he Rest In Peace.