November 27, 2018

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” – Colossians 3:12

Gratitude is so powerful, it can make us remember a brief moment for the rest of our lives. For me, one of those incredible experiences happened… while mowing the lawn.

How do I remember mowing any lawn, especially from 30 years ago? What’s there to remember? Pull starter cord 15 times, push mower, turn, sneeze, run out of gas, fill tank with gas, pull starter cord 20 more times, push mower, sneeze.

But in the middle of one of those mundane mowings, I remember letting go of the safety handle as soon as I saw them. Through a cloud of kicked-up dirt and grass cuttings, I saw Verlo and Mary Kay Butz standing in my driveway.

They were the parents of NFL defensive lineman Dave Butz, who had just won his second Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins. Verlo and Mary Kay were on their way to D.C. to watch their son be inducted into the Redskins “Ring of Fame” at RFK Stadium. To my complete surprise, they had stopped by my house before heading to the airport for one simple reason.

To say, “Thank you.”

About a month earlier, I had interviewed them at their house in southern Illinois for a story that would appear in my high school newspaper. The topic? What’s it like to be Dave Butz’s parents?

I was such a fan because I was born a Redskins fan in D.C. Also, Dave Butz wasn’t just a Super Bowl champion… he was in a Diet Coke commercial!

After somehow discovering his parents lived nearby, I rehearsed my interview request a hundred times before calling. They not only agreed to an interview, they invited me into their home and talked to me for at least two hours while I asked countless questions as a star-struck fan.

In my driveway, they said, “We just wanted to stop by and tell you what a fine job you did.” I was stunned. As I watched them drive away, I kept thinking, “Dave Butz’s parents actually came to my house? To thank me?

That Sunday, CBS showed a few seconds of Verlo and Mary Kay standing next to their son – beaming with pride – as Dave waved to the RFK crowd during his induction ceremony. I thought, “They were in my driveway two days ago!”

We may think a small gesture of gratitude won’t make a big difference. But a simple ‘thank you’ has the power to make someone feel like a million bucks. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Ed Doney – Staff Writer