Sunday, October 11, 2015

A to Z: T for Troy (A Giant Among Men)

A couple months ago, Troy's wife, Amy, had a great idea. She sent out letters to friends and family of Troy and asked them to write a paragraph about how he has had a positive affect on them. I had trouble keeping it to just one. Hoping Amy wouldn't mind, I took the liberty in writing a full-out tribute to someone who played an integral part in my life.

Troy was always a giant among boys. I have no doubt he is now a giant among men. He and I were best friends from fourth grade all the way through the rest of school and it is easy for me to say I am a better a person because of that friendship.

We had everything in common including the girls we thought were cute. There were many. From soccer, basketball and baseball to movies and music and choosing Christ-centered lives, we were pretty much identical. Teachers even got us confused – that is until he curled his hair in the back. If not for style, I applaud his courage on that one.

Growing up during those years of adolescence and going through broken-hearts, being teammates on the field and anything else teenage-life presented us with, I considered myself lucky to have a best friend that epitomized greatness in various, if not all, aspects of life. Today, I consider myself blessed to have spent so much of my childhood being his best friend. I can make the bold claim, and nothing would be untrue about it, that I have stood next to greatness.

Troy was better than me at everything. We never had karaoke sing-offs or anything so that is still yet to be determined, but everything else? He was better. His abilities stretched across sports more so than most, but it wasn’t only his athletic prowess that made him great. He was a giant among those around him because of one thing so many lack. Character. To have character now as mature adults is one thing, but to have it, know what it is and then apply it to every situation in life while growing up and becoming a man is an entirely different thing. He demonstrated an intricate and flawless style of grace that is still unmatched and unparalleled. For those that know him would agree.

There is a reason for everything in life and that includes being best friends with one of the most outstanding individuals I know. Because of this blessing I consider our friendship a rite of passage. Something I needed to have and experience in order to earn my way to manhood. I have been lucky to have great role models in my life. Troy is one of the most significant ones.

Why he stuck around as long as he did, I still have yet to figure that out. Having me as a best friend wasn’t always pleasant. Let me begin back on Route 30. Troy used to live along the busy highway and we would spend a lot time in his backyard playing sports of one kind or another. One particular day we were kicking soccer ball around. His back was to the road therefore I was facing it. I remember Troy shouting, “Just be careful! It has a tendency to go out into the road!” Well, of course I heard him, but did I listen? Nope. With every intention of kicking it over his head, I succeeded. Before I knew it, Troy was across the highway running down the sidewalk chasing the ball. Me? I was busting a gut just watching him. Then when I didn’t think it couldn’t get any funnier, Troy caught up to the ball only to have a tractor trailer run over it. Not flattening it, but running over top it causing it to roll way back up the road where Troy started his chase. While he was turning himself around and running back up the road, I was still laughing.

Then there was the throw-up incident. Coming home from a ski trip with some soccer buddies I was in the front seat suffering from an onset of a stomach bug. While going 80 down the highway I rolled down the window and puked. Ever do that? It’s not pretty. The vomit splattered all over the side of the car. Unfortunately the back window behind me was open. Who was sitting there? Troy.

Of course who could forget about the game he and I invented: Mitch Williams Baseball…with darts. There was one rule and it was very simple: throw the dart as fast as you can. On my turn, I stepped back several feet while Troy stood - what we both presumed – was a safe distance off to the side. Apparently with my bad aim, there is no safe distance. We stopped playing on the account of there being a dart dangling from Troy’s forearm.

There are more memorable, or forgettable – depends how you look at it – moments that we share (like Game 4 of the 1993 World Series) that I could name, but I will end with this quote from Bob Marley: “The greatness of a man is (measured) in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.”

Troy, you are a man of greatness that many, including myself, aim to emulate. Thank you for your friendship. Happy 40th!

Ryan


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