They all go into the dark. Whether famous and wealthy or unknown and merely comfortable, death takes all men.
And death has taken two good men this week, men in extremely different circumstances but both men who I will miss.
Kirby Puckett, who was for me a childhood hero, passed away from a stroke on Monday. While Puck’s image and health declined near the end of his life, he embodied the joyful and diligent pursuit of dreams for me. When I went through a phase of reading autobiographies, his story of his rise from a poor Chicago neighborhood challenged me to work harder at pursuing my own dreams. His infectious smile and personality made him one of the most popular and respected players of his day and his all-out style of play made him one of the most enjoyable players to watch. He was missed when he left baseball, and he is missed now.
This Monday another man died in relative obscurity. No one will mourn his passing except the few friends, neighbors, and family members who knew him and loved him. He will not have an ESPN.com write-up and they will not fill the Metrodome in his honor. But his death and life were significant all the same. Frank Mannasmith was a fighter–he was tenacious in his arguing and relentless in his criticisms of Bush. His fighting attitude carried him through eight months of being ill before finally going to the hospital when he couldn’t bear it anymore. The stubborness that made it impossible to treat the leukemia that had ravaged his body those eight months kept him alive, but when the pain became too great and he lost hope of recovery, he submitted to the equality of death. He lived in the same house in Kansas City for 40 years–a house that he built by himself from the ground up–and he died there in peace on Monday evening. Though I had met him only twice and barely knew him, I will miss Frank Mannasmith.