A truly great man... even if he never realized it.
March 29, 2009 12:55am CST
Most of us never really know the effect we have on the lives of others... for the good or the bad. We get involved in things we think are important, and do things for those we care about; but in the end, we usually don't get to see the results. Even if we see how the people turn out, we probably never know if we made a difference. I got the news today that Paul Brophy died today. He was one of my Scout leaders when I was a teenager, one of the ones that really made an impact on my life... for the good. He was a leader, but never held himself above anyone, but he was equally willing to discipline or correct you when your actions called for it. But once the time for discipline was past, he seemed to have no memory that there was ever a problem. His kids might beg to differ here, but even when you were in trouble, the smile may have left his mouth, but it never left his eyes. I don't have a single memory of him without that laughing gleam... even in my memories of him definitely not laughing. His humor knew know boundaries. Being the sort of teenager my friend Alan and I were, we couldn't help but omit him from our brand of practical joke. We were out and about one dark, winter night, doing what two teens are normally doing right before they pull something on someone... nothing. Somehow we found ourselves in Brophy's corner of Hob Hill. I don't even remember where we got the snow shovels, but somehow they ended up in our hands... and on Brophy's driveway. Before we could stop the shovels from carrying out their dastardly plans, a berm of snow blocked Paul's SUV in. because the berm was about 3 feet high and equally as wide. The shovels must have eaten their Wheaties early that day because when they finished withe the driveway, they made their way to the mailbox... covering it liberally in snow. It was a feat for which the parents of the snow shovels could be proud! :~D After school that day, Alan and I were hanging out together (big surprise there!), when the telephone rang. It was Bro. Brophy.. not in a good mood. He told us to get over to his house or he'll have to call our parents to "make" us go. We didn't want to.. but we also knew we should. We showed up to his house expecting the biggest chewing out we'd ever gotten, short of our own parents. What we didn't expect was Paul Brophy waiting for us in his kitchen with a box of donuts and Mt. Dews for each of us. He wasn't mad in the least. In fact, he rewarded us for being able to pull something like that off on him. He knew it wasn't done out of malice, but out of endearment. Our way of showing respect to a great man in our lives. There is a saying that goes, "When the time comes to move a piano, too many people are only willing to help move the bench". Paul Brophy lived his life bending over the corner of pianos. He knew the bench was well taken care of. As life goes on, people move in and out of our lives. The same was for him and I. I saw him here and there around Kaysville for a while, but since I wasn't around Kaysville much, it wasn't very often. Last summer, when my Daughter, Stevi and I were out in Utah; Alan said that he ran into Paul a few weeks before. We decided it was high time we went to visit our old friend. We spent a good hour sitting with him in his living room, talking about "the good old days", how his kids (all married with their own kids now) were doing, what he was up to... and of course, snow berms, mailboxes, donuts and Mt Dews. But the memory of that reunion that will stick in my heart and mind forever is, standing at his door, waiting for him to answer... holding snow shovels. The funniest part was, he didn't recognize us right off, not until he heard our voices. Until then he thought we were going door to door... selling snow shovels. I know his friends and family are mourning at this time, and my heart goes out to each of them.. but I am happy for those on the other side who have been waiting this long to enjoy his laughing eyes and good humor. My only question is, did he get to take that mustache with him?