Jewish World Review Nov. 22, 2010 / 15 Kislev, 5771
We're Here to Make a Difference
By Mitch Albom
Matt showed up.
He was there, at a desk, when I arrived 25 years ago and it feels as if he'd been there since the building opened. Matt did more than five decades in this newspaper business, the last chunk at the
But Matt was more than that. Much more. He was kind and thoughtful and humble and eccentric, and he had more courage than the next 10 guys in line. He used it most recently to battle cancer, in and out of hospitals, off and on machines, wrestling the devil to an even draw.
He had his 74th birthday a week ago Friday.
He died a few hours later.
Where's everybody going?
THE GO-TO FOLKS
There are a million stories about
Even then, I guess, he was a guy you could count on.
And that's what I just can't get past. That the guy you always counted on won't be there now. The desk is empty. The pattern is broken.
Where's everybody going?
MAKING A TRUE DIFFERENCE
Matt covered bowling for the
Now and then, if I wrote a column that drew angry responses, Matt would send me an e-mail saying, "Can you please clean out your voice mailbox? They're spilling over to me." But I knew by that point he'd already answered a half-dozen, informing callers that no, I was not a lunatic and yes, he would relay the message and no, he didn't know my home address.
A few weeks back, Matt was admitted to the hospital fighting acute leukemia. I reached him via phone, had one of those "keep the chin up" talks as he lay in his bed.
The next day, he somehow managed to send me an e-mail. This is what it read:
"Hey -- I really appreciated the phone call. I'm sure I won't have any trouble staying positive, but if I do, I'll call you for a booster shot.
"As a high school dropout, I've occasionally been asked to speak to alternative-ed grads about turning things around. And I always bring up the age-old college sophomore question -- 'Why are we here?' The answer is simple, I tell them, we're here to make a difference. Somebody made a difference to you to get you this point, now your job is to go out and make a difference to someone else.
"In July, when I was felled with blood clots in my lungs -- which could have been instantly fatal -- one of the doctors said 'I guess God didn't want you yet.' (Apparently the devil didn't, either). So I figure God kept me around so I could make a difference in someone's life. So, I'm looking forward to kicking this thing and getting on with the mission.
"Best to you and your family -- Matt."
I'm sorry, I've kind of rambled here. I just don't get why we keep losing these great people, why they are there one day, pillars of our world, and gone the next. Where's everybody going? I seem to be asking that every day now.
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