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Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

When I think of encouragement,

I think of Jack Pera,

who stood every year

at the top of Imogene Pass—

in snow, in sun, in sleet, in fog.

On race day, a thousand plus runners

would reach the top,

weary, having climbed

over five thousand feet in ten miles,

and Jack, he would hold out his hand

and pull each of us up the last foot,

launching us toward the long downhill finish.

I remember how surprised I was

the first time, and grateful,

grateful to feel him reaching for me,

grateful to feel his powerful grip

yanking me up through the scree.

“Good job,” he’d say to each one of us,

cheering us though we were sweaty

and drooling and panting and spent.

After that first race, I knew to look for him

as I climbed the last pitch,

trying to make out his form

at the top of the ridge.

And there was. Every time.

“Good job,” he’d say

as he made that last steep step

feel like flight.

There are people who do this,

who hold out their hand,

year after year,

to help those who need it.

There are people who carry us

when we most need it,

if only for a moment.

When I heard today Jack had died,

I couldn’t help but imagine

an angel waiting there above him

as he took his last breath,

an angel with a firm grip and a big smile

holding out a hand, pulling him through that last effort,

telling him, “Good Job, Jack. Good job.”

And may he have felt in that moment

the blessing of that encouragement,

totally ready to be launched into whatever came next.

Good job, Jack Pera. Good job.

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