There are those people who come into your life and leave footprints in the sand.
Footprints that in time will be swept away, footprints that may leave a memory, or two.
But there are a few people who will come into your life and leave behind footprints chiseled in granite, footprints that in some small way change you for the rest of your life.
I have a few granite footprints in my life. My wife, my kids, my family, of course.
Granite footprints also from friends and colleagues, most know who they are, one is about to find out.
Trip Weldon has left footprints of granite in my life.
And my buddy is off the Elite trail, weighing in now a fight against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
When I came to this game, I had no idea who he was or what he did, to be honest I’m sure he could write that same sentence about me.
We sort of just looked at each other, he once asked, “So what do you think about Alabama?”
“OK, a little muggy though.”
“I meant the football team.”
I just smiled, for 15 years I was the investigative producer for ESPN Sportscenter and Outside The Lines, investigated lots of sports, teams, colleges, stuff like that.
“It’s a pretty state,” I mumbled as he walked away.
But one day on a small rise overlooking a launch in my hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., he walked up to me, “I read your story about your parents living in Alabama.”
“Yep, they liked it there, I have relatives from there.”
Hands in his pocket, sunglasses on, B.A.S.S. ball cap on tight, he turned from watching the boats and looked right at me, “That’s good, that’s fine, relatives huh, that’s real nice.”
Then he smiled and walked away, behind him about a dozen people were looking at me, all of whom mouthed something to the effect, “Trip was talking with you.”
And yes he was, er did, and truth be told from that point on, he’s actually never stopped talking with me.
The last decade
We have had now hundreds of breakfasts and dinners together along with all the members of the backstage crew.
Every one of those folks you never hear about, along with the service crew who fixes all things that need to be fixed. Every one of them is family to me, we have gone through the ups and downs of life together.
We grieved when we lost Max, we grieved when we lost Pooley, we tell each other about our families back home, the babies, the weddings, the missing of them and all that.
And that is what makes us closer, closer than just coworkers, we are on the road together days, weeks at a time in other folks' places, that’s what binds us. I’ll tell you this, personally when Trip first told me and made me promise not to say anything … tears were coming down my cheeks.
I know for a fact that the same is happening right now from all those who work now or have worked with him as part of the backstage crew.
And all those who love and honor this man at B.A.S.S.
A treatment plan has been made, from what I’m told much is known on how to treat Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I can tell you personally that Trip is as strong as ever and is prepared to do what it takes.
I will cut him some slack throughout this, some, you know, too much and I’ll hear about it.
In a text to me today there was this simple sentence: “You know I love you.”
And so came the footprints in granite.
Please know this, in your life you don’t need to be a big, strong man or woman, you don’t need a blazing 40-speed, don’t need to lift more than you weigh 50 times to leave footprints in granite.
You, just, need, to, care …
… about what you do …
… and those you do it for …
… and with.
Trip Weldon is all of that.
Please keep him in your prayers and thoughts, as will I.
And to Trip buddy, simply this: You know I love you … too.
“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”
— Bernard Meltzer