On Making an Impact on Others

From a blog I was running in 2002: 

Last week was "tech week" for Tony & Tina's Wedding. After long days at work, my whole clan was off to the Andrus Center until past midnight every day. The show finally came together for opening night Friday, and things have been going very well. The crowds are really liking what they see.

Wednesday Mom called to tell me that my old Scoutmaster, Reggie Kirk, has passed away. He was 73 and he died in his sleep. His son called my parents trying to get hold of me. Reggie had a last request that included me.

When I was 12 years old I was in the Boy Scouts. One of the unique talents that I offered the troop was my ability to play a brass instrument, so I became the bugler. Once a year all the Boy Scout troops would converge on Camp Stigwandish for a week long camping experience and every night I would play taps on my bugle for the whole camp. I never really thought much about it, but it apparently had a big impact on Reggie and his sons.

Reggie had impressed on his family that I was to be located so as to play taps at his funeral when the time came, so early Wednesday morning they made the call to my mom.

Although I had been a trombone player in the Air Force for many years, I hadn't touched a bugle since I was 12. In fact I haven't even touched a brass instrument since November of 1993.

I made some phone calls, got on the internet and located a bugle for sale in New York, which I purchased. It arrived Thursday morning which gave me two days to try and build up enough "chops" to play taps. Saturday morning was the funeral, and Reggie's family heard a live rendition of taps. His children were in tears and let me know how much it meant to them to hear me play that at their father's funeral. One of his son's reminisced on how stirring it was to him as a youngster hearing me play taps at camp. He still clearly remembered it. He also told me how his father had told everyone that Dave Van Allen would be playing Taps at his funeral.

I hadn't seen Reggie in years. The last time I remember seeing him was when my brother Tom passed away ten years ago (1992). I suppose he mentioned the "Taps" thing then, but I really don't recall. I never imagined that it was that big of a deal. I was given pause to reflect on how much impact one person can have in the life of another, without even realizing it. I'm happy that I made a positive contribution to their lives.

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