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Shot Of The Day

Gonna miss you Old Pro

You Can Handle it Kid!

Some people are just plain good at it. Naturals. It seems to have been issued by God along with their blue eyes and distinct laugh. Part of their DNA. They don’t work at it. Don’t have to remind themselves to do it. They don’t force it or try to fit it into a conversation. It just flows mellifluously off their tongues as part of natural human interaction. It doesn’t seem to come with a lot of forethought, yet it is disarmingly credible and penetrating. It doesn’t come from a hidden agenda or an intellectual analysis, but from a fist sized muscle below the sternum. When you are in the presence of someone with this gift, you feel taller than you are, better than you are, more than you are. You feel lifted because they lift you. You feel powerful because they tell you more about what you are becoming than about where you have fallen short. The feeling left by them often morphs into action on your part because nothing propels a human forward like their unique form of love. They are the encouragers amongst us and they are truly rare.

If you are extraordinarily blessed, you have one in your family. My mom is mine. Always seeing beyond where I am to my full potential, my mom has propelled me to places through encouragement that I am certain I never would have gone without her. So it really doesn’t surprise me that one of my mother’s lasting legacies to her three girls was John Beckmann, a master encourager.

John moved into the apartment at the base of my childhood home when my sister and I went away to college thirty years ago. In his late 60’s at the time, none of us fathomed that 30 years would pass as John became a part of the fabric of our family — first a stranger, then a friend and ultimately a part of who we have become as women.

I could write an opus about John’s gift, but none of it could sum up Old Pro Beckmann better than his favorite phrase — “you can handle it kid.” It wasn’t trite when he issued it. It felt like it was just for you when it came and it fit like a glove when all you needed was the warmth of cover in a difficult storm. When my sister faced cancer at 26, he would pat her on the back as she forced herself to climb up the stairs after chemo… “you can handle it kid.” When my husband and I visited between grueling semesters in law school, he would pick just the right time… “you can handle it kid.” Even my mom, 30 years his junior, wasn’t exempt from kid status as he encouraged her through a difficult task or the loss of her friend Grey Whaley… “you can handle it kid.”

The irony about his phrase was this. He really wasn’t saying YOU can do life on your own steam or solely on your own power. Quite the contrary. He was encouraging you to let others bear part of your burden by letting them in enough to encourage you. Essentially, he was easing your burden by sharing a little of your pain.

Three months ago when he moved from 222 Seventh Street to be closer to his daughter Bonnie in Seattle, John and I had a few hours together to tie up some loose ends before his big trip. He knew I had been collecting used keys for a sermon I was about to give. Even though his whole life was packed up for the move, he reached into his pocket just as his daughter pulled up to take him away. Out came a key which he put tenderly in my hand. As the tears flooded my eyes, he said one last time… “you can handle it kid.”

John Beckmann took his sacred journey from this life to the next on Friday night just three weeks shy of his 97th birthday. While I am sad that I won’t hear his voice or see his face, I am full of encouragement because John filled me with it.

I don’t know where you are in life or what burden you may be carrying. But I do know that you aren’t meant to bear it alone. If you need encouragement, please do me a favor. Let me honor John’s memory. Let me encourage you. I plan to tell you a little secret, but I rather suspect you already know what it is. Call, write or text anyway. I want to be like Old Pro Beckmann when I grow up. I want to be an encourager.

Posted: 4 July 2011