Burton Rogers was a genteel sort of man who made others feel important and allowed his own accomplishments to remain in the shadows. Mr. Rogers was both well known and well loved by the students and community of Pine Mountain. He was a graduate of Yale University, and had taught English in China. He also did graduate work at the University of London where he first met his late wife, Mary Blagden. After their wedding in India, they traveled throughout Europe, taught in China and even lived in India. Their adventures were varied before they first came to teach and live at Pine Mountain Settlement School in the fall of 1947.
Eunice Blanton and Mary Hensley were also remembered by family and loved ones this week as their time on earth was completed. They, too, had their adventures in this life. They, too, touched the lives of many around them. Their lives were celebrated and cherished by those who knew and loved them.
It occurred to me that there is greatness in each one of us. There are adventures, stories and memories that belong uniquely to each one of us. And each person who knows us has a different story to tell about their relationship with us. Grandpa/grandma, mother/father, sister/brother, daughter/son, aunt/uncle, cousin, nephew/niece, teacher/student, friend... one person can be so many different things all at the same time.
Each one who knows us sees us in a different way, based on shared experiences. Each has a different story to tell or particular memory that may be quite different from those of others. Like the facets of a diamond, we all have different sides, but each side is still a part of the whole.
I had the very great joy of meeting Mr. Earl Hamner Jr. (creator of the Waltons) this week and spending some time with him at the invitation of Connie and George Brosi, who were escorting him between speaking engagements. He was not only the author of the story, the script writer and narrator of the hit television series, but he was actually the real "John Boy." At 84, Mr. Hamner is an amazing gentleman with so many adventures and stories to tell about his life and the people he has known that he will never get them all written down in this lifetime. Listening to him talking in that very familiar voice that narrated the beloved television series was a treat.
Even though the stories of his life and family were shared on television, there is so much more of Mr. Hamner than those episodes aired for public entertainment. He is a good soul. He has traveled near and far, won awards for his work and accomplished great success by this world's standards. Yet, he was just as sweet signing autographs for the waitresses at Western Sizzlin' in Harlan as he could have been to anyone. He has mastered the gift of touching other lives with kindness. I believe he truly holds each person as valuable.
I am convinced that there is the potential for greatness in all of us. We all have a separate journey that we must make through this world. We all have adventures that are uniquely our own. We all have opportunities to touch other lives in a positive way. What we do one day at a time might not seem like a very big deal to anyone, but it is the sum of all those days in a person's life that are the true measure of greatness.
Some leave this world with a well documented legacy of the differences they've made, the good they've done, and the work they've accomplished. Others go quietly, with the pages of their lives scattered to the wind - each page silently carrying a story of some life they touched, some kind word they've spoken, or some act of kindness they did in secret.