A Strange Weekend by Bill Blackwell

I don’t know about anyone else, but this weekend was filled with many differing emotions for me.  There were highs and lows during the two days meant for most of us to get a break from the work week.  Saturday saw Jackson State win their first game of the Tony Hughes era and Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and USM all mark notches in the victory column.  Everything appeared to be going smoothly.

Then Sunday morning the news of the tragic death of 24 year old Jose Fernandez rocked the nation.  The Cuban national that had escaped through great peril from that communist nation and made it to America to become one of the most talented players in the game of baseball.  He was a great athlete, he could hit as well as pitch and the enthusiasm that he played the game with was unprecedented.  That energy rubbed some the wrong way but no one doubted his talent.  He had faced adversity and bounced back from Tommy John surgery and was 16-8 for this season and had two more scheduled starts ahead of him.  His bright future came to a sudden halt when the boat that he and two others who died in the crash, hit a jetty in the early morning.

Football games and an exciting finish to the PGA Tour Championship brought a better mood but then we were hit with the death of golfing legend Arnold Palmer.  Unlike Fernandez, Palmer lead a long and amazing life.  In the late 50’s and early 60’s Palmer and Jack Nicklaus put the PGA on the public mind.  Arnie and his dashing slashing style of play endeared him to millions who became known as “Arnie’s Army”.  To that point no one had ever captured the hearts of the general public like him and as he aged he became a great businessman and took the role of the wise grandfather in his later years.  Truly a kind and giving man, I had the pleasure to meet him and he was as nice as his public image led you to believe.

It was a roller coaster ride of emotion for two days and I’m not sure what to take from it other than the knowledge that some of us are blessed to be on this earth for longer periods of time than others and that no matter how long you are on this earth, living your life to its fullest is good no matter when you are called to go.


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