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A wise man once said, "If you were going to die tomorrow and had only one phone call to make, who would you call and what would you say? Why are you waiting?" At the time, family and friends told me this happened for a reason. They told me he was called to a better place. I never told him how much he meant to me. I wish I had the chance to thank him for the life lessons he taught me. If I could be blessed enough to spend just one more moment with him, I would tell him he has touched my life with such an impact that I will never be the same.
I remember walking timidly toward the baseball field on the first day of little league. At the age of six, nothing could be more terrifying than a brand new town with brand new kids. Scared and alone I walked onto the field like an outsider who did not belong. That is when I first net the man that would not only impact my life, but also touch the hearts of everyone lucky enough to cross his path. He was a big Italian man, with a smile from ear to ear, and the kind of guy you could not be in a bad mood around, somehow he always knew exactly what you needed to hear. George Monge took me under his wing like an eagle adopting an abandoned chick. I will never forget the way he introduced me to everyone. He presented me as his number one pitcher, his "Ace", a name that will stick with me forever. He gave me the confidence I so desperately needed.
His son Mike played on the team as well, and automatically we clicked. From that point on, we became inseparable we were basically brothers. As a result, my family and the Monge family grew extremely close. George was my "Coach" , and I was his "Ace" . Whenever I had a problem, I would seek his advice. He never let me down. In addition to his insight on the court and fireld, outside the sports world he taught me even more valuable lessons. More than a sports coach, he was a life coach.
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Season after season team members came and went, but there was always one constant, George. He spoke in front of our school at our fifth grade graduation. George forsaw that sooner than we expected, we would be in college. He knew we should treasure the time we have together. Although then I took it for granted, I now realize that I do cherish the time I had with him. His moving words and poetic style conveyed how much he cared for us. He was proud of how far we had come already and wanted to inspire us to go further That day he really stood out as a pillar in our community.
I remember the single most important conversation I had with George Monge when I was in junior high. It was so meaningful and life altering, that it has in part shaped who I am and how I live today. He always told us to cease the moment, "Carpe deim", he would say. If only my immaturity didn't block me from seeing that he was right, you only live once, so make the best of it. "Ace", he said that day, "Let me ask you a question."
"If you were going to die tomorrow and had only one phone call to make, who would you call and what would you say? Why are you waiting?"
At the time, his words flew right over my head. I heard what he said, but I was not really listening. I should have answered the question right there. I should have answered, I would call you coach and thank you for everything you have done for me. But, for some reason, no words would come. I will not make that mistake again. The moment I did not seize changed the way I think and live.
Senior year of high school, Mike and I were lab partners in biology. One day during last period our teacher suddenly asked Mike to step outside. When she came back in the room without Mike; her face told me something was amiss. Later that night news of a tragedy reached my ears. "George has had a heart attack, he has gone to a better place." I will never forget that moment of complete and total emptiness. My premonitions had come true. I could not believe the strong man I looked up to had been defeated. It was hard to imagine that this man who was like a father to me would not be cheering for us on the sideline anymore.
"We understand death for the first time when He puts his hand upon one whom we love" The priest could not have said it better. As he finished his sermon, the congregation rose from the pews in unison. One by one, the community passed by the open casket. It seemed as though the whole town had come in his honor. He meant so many thing to so many people. The line in front of me became smaller and smaller. Soon it would be my turn, my turn to see the shell of a man I admired so greatly. A man who lived his life for others, and a man who's legacy will live on long after him. Contemplating on whether or not I could handle it, I looked over at Mike. He was with the rest of the family standing in front They were all watching, while being consoled by everyone who passed by. He stared back with an emptiness I had never seen before from a human being.
I knew then, that I had to, that I couldn't let another opportunity pass me by. Finally I was next in line. As I approached the casket, my heart started to tremor, and I could feel my self start to jump out of my own skin. To see him in that beautiful coffin entirely made up; ironically, he never looked better. I put my index and middle finger up to my lips. I kissed them, then I touched them to my hero's forehead. "Thank you" , spontaneously, the words that I had been wanting to say for so long, the words that I had the regret of not saying, so easily came out. It was then that I knew that he knows.