The Great One
When I was ten years old, my parents split. It was traumatic for a number of reasons. There were a number of people, teachers, friends, family, that attempted to help make sense of the situation. That, in and of itself, is admirable. A family separation is a difficult thing. Sticking around and trying to help is difficult. One family/friend that was there through all of the breakup was Kelsey Ferguson.
Kelsey was one of my best friends. We lived about five houses away from each other. We went to the same school and were in the same classes. We were inseparable. The change in my family status meant that we moved away from each other. When my mom left my dad, we moved to a neighbourhood quite some distance removed from where I was previously. This changed quite a few of my neighbourhood relationships.
But, the move didn’t really impact my relationship with Kelsey. We had been friends for a long time. We rode bikes together and played superheroes together. We, were inseparable. One of the fun things we did was go to his parents jewelry store – Diamond Magic – and play mini sticks with the Oilers. You see, Kelsey and I grew up in Sherwood Park watching the Edmonton Oilers of the early 1980’s. The heyday. These were our idols. Mark Messier, Kevin Lowe, Paul Coffey, Jari Kuri, and of course, Wayne Gretzky. For some reason all of these guys, the guys we idolized, went to Diamond Magic to get their jewelery done. So, when there was a promotion at Diamond Magic, we were there, with these young, amazing hockey players.
We didn’t think much of it at the time. But, now, as a 42 year old looking back at his childhood, it is an amazing thing. Playing mini sticks in a jewelry store with some of the most amazing hockey players of all time is truly unbelievable. But, my story gets better.
One evening, a few months after my parents split, I was invited to Kelsey’s house for supper. We hung out and played, as ten year olds will do. But then, things changed. In walked Vicki Moss and her boyfriend, Wayne Gretzky. Really, given my experience with the rest of the Oilers team, this should not have been such a big deal. But it was. This was The Great One. Even at ten years old, I knew this was something special. Having fondu with this unassuming, quiet 24 year old was special. He didn’t say much. He asked me if I played hockey and how that was going. But that was enough.
Really, the exchange wasn’t much. But, now at 42, I know, I will never forget it. I have often hoped that I would get the chance to tell Wayne Gretzky how much those few minutes mean to me. I was a hurting 10 year old kid who got to have supper with his idol. I won’t pretend that those few moments solved the problems in my life. But, they certainly had a huge impact on me.
The one thing that is clear to me from this event in my life is that relationships are key. They are the foundation for what we are able to do in our work with kids. When they know we are with them, amazing things can happen. I hope, at one point, Wayne sees this and realizes what an impact he had on my life.
But, if nothing else, I hope this story stands as a testament to the power of relationships and what our kids need from us everyday. So, tomorrow, as your week begins, be Wayne Gretzky for your kids.
All the best,