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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Remembering Stan and Ken

  One of the best quotes I have ever heard came from former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts. He said, "Character is doing the right thing when no one is looking."
  Last week, we celebrated the lives of two people who have recently passed away. One of them was known to everyone. His name was Stan Musial. Stan was a St. Louis Cardinal all of his life. He was an amazing ball player. He played all of his 22 seasons in St. Louis. He played in 24 All Star games, 3,630 hits in his career, and a lifetime .331 batting average. Any student of the game will tell you those are some pretty impressive numbers.
  Stan was not just amazing on the field, he was amazing off the field as well. He and his wife Lil were married for 72 years. Unheard of in this day and age of prenuptial agreements and no fault divorce. Stan and Lil had 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. Stan also served his country, missing the entire 1945 season while in the Navy during World War II. Anyone who came in contact with Stan could tell stories of him going out of his way to give out an autographed baseball to anyone who wanted one, coming to say hello to a sick child, or even adult in the hospital. Stan was kind and generous to any and all he met, treated everyone with dignity and respect. Because that was the kind of man Stan was.
  The other person was not known to all. But he had many of the same characteristics that Stan did. Ken Jackson was not a famous man. He was not a ball player or a movie star. He was a nurse. When we first met, he worked on the Oncology floor of the hospital where I worked. Ken cared for terminally ill people. People who were not only enduring the chronic pain of cancer, but were also coming to terms with their own mortality. He also cared for their families, and tried to prepare them for life without their loved ones. Ken went on to have several different positions at the hospital. He worked in the Recovery Room, caring for people immediately following surgery. He helped shape the practice standards for the Nursing Staff. His final position was in Education. Giving newly graduated nurses, and those new to the hospital specialized training for which ever floor they would be working on. On one of his class evaluations, one of his students wrote, "He made me excited to be a nurse."
  Ken loved being a nurse. Like Stan being a ball player, it was who he was. Ken and his partner Terry were together for 20 years. Ken lost Terry in a car accident roughly a year and a half ago. Many who knew him well said he was just never the same. Like Stan, Ken went out of his way to help whomever he could. Not because it was convenient or necessary, but because it was the right thing to do.
  Stan Musial and Ken Jackson could not have been more different. They had different careers, certainly different lifestyles, different life paths. But people loved them for all the same reasons. For the men they were. For the way they treated their fellow man. For the level of excellence they demanded of themselves.
  Stan Musial will be remembered by millions of adoring fans. Ken Jackson will be remembered by all of the people who were touched by his skill and talent as a nurse. The memories of Stan and Ken remind us that it is not about who you love, but what you do when no one is looking.

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