Admittedly, I become nostalgic to the point of sadness when I learn that famous people have passed away. Even though I’ve never met them to establish a personal relationship, some of them have been intertwined into the fabric or rather quilt of my life.
One such patch of my quilt takes me to an early Sunday morning. Instead of preparing to attend church, my parents had my brother and me climb into bed with them to watch a piece of history. We were mesmerized watching a man walk the streets of his native country as throngs of people lined the streets cheering his freedom. Though my brother and I were able to excitedly identify the man as Nelson Mandela and aware of his imprisonment as well as the efforts of companies and countries throughout the world divesting from South Africa, we did not know we should have been in expectation of his release.
As I search each day for an update on Mr. Mandela’s health, a piece of my heart breaks. I know he cannot live forever and that the day will come when he, like each of us, will transition.
How does one express their appreciation for those they don’t know but whose life’s work has impacted them? With those you know, you’re able to express their importance and shower them with your gratitude. Though their presence will be missed when they transition, a comforting peace abides knowing you’ve been able to empower them with the meaningful way in which they’ve impacted lives. Maybe that is why the mourning for the famous is so great. – far too many feelings of gratitude left unexpressed, further complicated when fans sometimes learn these very influential people were consumed with insecurities, oblivious to the positive impact they’ve had on others.
Former President Nelson Mandela – twenty-seven long years of his life were seemingly wasted in a prison cell. In what position would South Africa be if he’d had those years to work to end apartheid earlier and begin its current reconciliation decades ago? What would race relations look like had he never been imprisoned? How could other countries that continue to struggle with racial injustice and strife have benefitted from what could have been South Africa’s example? Unfortunately, that we will never know. What we do know was that secluded in a prison cell on a tiny island off the west coast of South Africa, Mandela was having a great impact on the world. There is a lesson in that – one can have an impact from right where they are.
Mr. Mandela, thank you for your courage to fight an entire system that saw you as less than. Thank you for your sacrifice of 27 years. Thank you for your leadership and presiding the very nation that senselessly imprisoned you. Thank you for your vision in helping create the Reconciliation “committee” to begin the healing of your nation. Thank you for your example. You are appreciated and loved.
To whom would you like to express your appreciation?