In Time of Need, The Men Were There

Brian Childers 
MDI Contributor

On March 1, 2008 I was on the way to the airport to fly to Sao Paolo, Brazil to teach a week-long COBIT Train the Trainer class … when my mother died. 

I was devastated.

I was hurt to my very core – even though we were very complete with each other and it wasn’t unexpected.

It had taken me more than a month to obtain a visa to teach the class, and no one else in my company had such a visa nor could they teach the class. AND the truth was she was already gone. My staying home in Atlanta would make zero difference for her. 

So, I went on.

It happened that my wife at the time, Terri, was arriving at the ATL airport from a business trip right then, and I was able to meet her in the terminal for a hug and a cry. And then I had to go. I recall riding the train out to the gate bawling my eyes out and having people looking at me and really wondering why.

When I got to Brazil and checked into my hotel 11 or 12 hours later, I called my support man on the team Steve Jones and asked for help. He was coincidentally my sponsor to the Sterling Men’s Weekend in 1991.

“No problem!” he said. 

I needed to make funeral arrangements with the funeral home and the cemetery.  He contacted the funeral home and collected information about plans, prices, options, etc. and scanned and had them sent to me. This was a great help – I could be in action and make some decisions – which I did, because it gave me something to DO. As I recall, he also helped me set up a visitation upon my return home.

The first day of teaching the class I leveled with the students, who were all adult males. I told them what had happened and that I would give my best and I might not be able to keep it together at all times. They appeared to understand and allow me some latitude if I needed it. One night during the week they took me out to an authentic Brazilian churrascaria, and we had LOTS of MEAT and Caipirinhas – a bit of distraction.  (a.k.a. help)

I was at the time the Chairman of the Board of Directors of MDI and I also had to lead a Board meeting call from Brazil (after teaching all day).  The directors on the call were most understanding and helpful and each stepped up to ensure that they carried their load during the call.  (help)

At the end of the class, the students gave me a standing ovation and said that I had not only taught them COBIT well, but I had also taught them how to BE A MAN! 

When I returned home, another teammate, Peter Floistad picked me up on Saturday morning, took me to the cemetery where I had to sign papers, etc. and he LITERALLY had to carry me some of the way to and from the grave site where my mother was to be buried.

When I first saw Mom in the casket at the visitation, I fell on the floor – literally. After I was able to get myself to a chair pretty close to the front I was broken, crying my eyes out. I felt a hand on my leg and looked up to see Tim Goodnow – a man who has found a way to be there for me when I needed him – sometimes without my even asking – my friend, by my definition.

Mom’s funeral was on Monday, because that’s when the Cathedral of Christ the King was available.  She was a parishioner there for over 40 years and that was where it was going to be held.  The Monday thing caused the turnout to be very low – I assume because people had to work.  She had lots of friends, but unfortunately not many were able to attend.  That said, the largest contingent was from my Men’s Division – The Dog Soldiers – dressed in their suits and at attention. Maybe 20 or 25!

At the cemetery, two of the men (Jay Zipperman and Daniel Holloway – both Jewish – I’m not) I took the SMW with in 9/91 in Spencer, MA insisted on burying my mom.  God love them both and so do I. (HELP)

Mom had an electric wheelchair that had to be removed from the nursing home.  Someone (I don’t recall exactly who) got that heavy and awkward thing moved to my house and installed in the basement. (Help)

Afterwards, I wanted to purchase and have delivered and installed a Cedar of Lebanon.  Mom was Lebanese (I’m ½ J) and the Monsignor said we could plant it right in front of the rectory at the Cathedral – right smack on Peachtree Road in Buckhead (a VERY prestigious location).  My friend Goodnow put me in contact with a man that found me one and closed the deal.

There are even more ways that my men helped me around the hardest series of events that I have endured.  I surely could not have done most of this by myself. 

I needed help in a big way and I was confident that I could turn to my men.  I could not have imagined how much they would help me – physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

I love my men!

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