Thursday, January 28, 2016

A tribute to Mary Beth Blegen

This past Monday, I received the sad news that Mary Beth Blegen passed away.  Mary Beth taught for thirty years in Worthington, Minnesota.  She was the Minnesota Teacher of the year in 1995 and the National Teacher of the year in 1996. 

All sorts of beautiful tributes have been written about Mary Beth. 
Each day this week I’ve read some amazing and stirring words about Mary Beth on her Facebook page:

Watch the ceremony at the White House when she was awarded the Teacher of Year trophy by President Clinton here.  It really got good at minute 15:

Read a beautiful tribute to Mary Beth written by Beth Rickers in the Worthington Daily Globe:

I even found a blog she started.  It can be read here:

I never had the opportunity to have Mary Beth as a teacher.  I knew her, though, as she was a teacher at the High School.  She was always around and always present.  Growing up in a small town it seemed that we all knew everyone—and Mary Beth was part of the community.  She was part of Worthington—so we were connected.

I remember going to her house when we had musicals and talking to her at her church when I played the violin there.  She was always interested in what was going on in my life.  She would ask me a question, then be silent, and listen

One of my memories of Mary Beth was the column she wrote for the Worthington Daily Globe.  If I remember right she started writing it in the early 1980’s.  Her column was the first thing I would read in the paper.  She always had a beautiful story to share.  At the time I remember being amazed at what a skillful writer she was.  She had the ability to focus attention on something that was really important.

The last time I saw Mary Beth was when my parents and I traveled to Washington DC in the summer of 1996.  My mom was a delegate to the N.E.A convention.  During a luncheon Mary Beth came to talk to my parents and me.  When she saw us she was interested in what was happening in our lives.  She asked questions and then listened.

Later on I re-connected with Mary Beth through Facebook.  Occasionally she would ask a question about God on her page, and she would ask me to respond.  Always the teacher—looking to draw out ideas from the people she knew.

The world is a diminished place with Mary Beth’s passing.  But it’s a better place because of her presence.  Many of us carry her lessons with us.  As we share these lessons, we will give tribute to her legacy, and make our world a better place. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Vikings: Again snatching defeat from certain victory

Right before Blair Walsh lined up for his fourth field goal try, my daughter, Hannah, asked me if the Vikings were going to win.

When Hannah asked the question I was briefly transported back in time to December 28, 1975.  I was watching the Vikings/Cowboys divisional playoff game at my grandfather’s farm home.  My sister asked me the very same question right before the Cowboys lined up for a 4th and 17 on their final drive. 

The logical, analytical part of me responded to Hannah the same way that I responded to my sister.  All athletes and even spectators know that the game is not over until the clock has run out. 

The emotional part of me silently responded to Hannah the same way I silently responded to my sister a little more than forty years ago.  “There is no way we can lose this game.”

When Hannah asked me the question the only way I thought the Vikings could lose was if the Seahawks responded with a miracle drive.  They would have about 25 seconds and no timeouts, so it didn’t look good for them.

It never even dawned on me that Blair Walsh would miss a chip shot, 27-yard field goal.

We all know that he missed it.  And when he missed it I buried my head in the couch.  My wife, Amy, was so concerned about me that she sat next to me on the couch for ten minutes.  

My response was G-rated.  But if you want to see some more flamboyant responses from Vikings’ fans to Blair Walsh’s miss go to:

The Vikings have always had the terrible ability to snatch defeat from certain victory.  It’s not that the Vikings lose.  They lose when it seems definite that they will win.  What happened yesterday has happened before.  Yesterdays’ game can now be lumped with 2010, 1999, and 1975.  Defeat snatched from certain victory.

These games don’t even account for four Super Bowl losses and the infamous 41/donut.  And who doesn’t remember the touchdown by the Arizona Cardinals to keep the Vikings from the playoffs in 2003. 

No other Minnesota sports team does this to their fans.  Quite frankly I can’t think of any other professional franchise that does this to their fans.

I wrote about the pain of being a Vikings fan in a blog on January, 25, 2010.  Read it here:

I’ll never stop rooting.  I’ve stopped trying or believing that I won’t get hooked.  When Brett Favre threw his interception against the Saints I was wildly yelling at the television.  Just like I was face-planted on my couch yesterday. 

I still believe that the Vikings will win a Super Bowl.  Perhaps it’s my own naiveté that keeps me cheering.