Live your life with honor, and decide for yourself- will I be better today, or worse? (I choose better.)

“How do you act when the pressure is on, when the chance for victory is almost gone? When fortune's star has refused to shine and the ball is on your own five-yard line. Cowards can run when they're way ahead. It's the uphill grind that marks a thoroughbred. How do you act when things are rough? Do you want to quit when the breaks get tough, or is there in you a flame that grows brighter and fiercer as the battle goes? How long and how hard will you fight the foe? That is what the world wants to know. You hope for success, then tell me son, how do you act when the pressure is on?"

I’m trying so very hard today to put a voice to what is swirling in my heart- and the hearts of so many of us who have lived in this valley for many, many years.

The nation is mourning the passing of a legend; a coaching great that was admired and revered by a number too large to even hazard a guess.

Those of us who have planted roots in this community are mourning a husband, a father, a grandfather and a neighbor.  We are mourning the man who passed us in the streets, in the stores, in schools, in the Creamery, on the bike paths and in church for decades.   We are mourning the man who yelled (with his fist raised) at inconsiderate motorists in town; the man who would walk through town each day and greet anyone who had the nerve to stop him, and would gladly pose for pictures with anyone- republican OR democrat. The man who walked by my house on the bike path every day in the summer; who would chat with me about my flowers, or the student teachers (football players) that I was lucky to have in my classroom. 

I listened today as men and women of all ages and walks of life shared the impact that this man’s words and actions had upon their lives, and I was brought to my knees.  The man whose sole purpose was to act in a manner that would impact the good of the world, the good of the people’s lives he touched, and the family he held so precious.   And if today’s soliloquies were any indication, he was far more successful than he could have ever imagined.

There were many people who spoke, big names that you would recognize immediately, but the one that resonated with me was that of his son; Jay.

That he had the strength to stand and speak to a community and a nation was incredible to me.  He was incredibly eloquent, articulate, emotional and inspiring.   I was humbled.  I was humbled because not only do I know him as the son of a legend, as a coach of the team, but also as a friend.  He was the father of children who MIGHT have attended our school, and might have been in my classroom. 

And as a teacher and a mother – I was incredibly proud of him today.

And so tonight I wrap a blanket around myself and I sit and think about the legacy that was Coach Paterno. Yes, there are many who are sitting in their homes pointing fingers and reminding us that  he should have done more.   We hear you.

But today, there are those of us who are wrapping his wife, his children and his grandchildren in love and honor. 

R.I.P.  Coach. 

Your life lessons and your message of living life with integrity will live on, and on, and on, and on.  Your “children”, “grandchildren” and all of your one billion neighbors will ensure that this happens.  And we will begin by forgiving, leaving bitterness behind and looking forward to helping others who have been harmed to heal.

We are.



Anonymous said...

hugs I am thinking of you!

Just Two Chicks said...

May he rest in peace... he was a great man during his lifetime, and he died a great man. That cannot be taken from him.

Vodka Mom said...

Oregon, PA. Of course.

Sue said...

I was saddened when I heard of this remarkable man's death! I believe what had happened to him recently played a big part in it. I have no words on that, but a standing ovation for you and the post you wrote today so perfectly! You nailed it.

Take care my friend,

Vodka Mom said...

we are heartbroken, and inspired all in one.

MaryBeth said...

Thank you for sharing about your neighbor! You were blessed to know him.
We all mourn.
Praying for his family and those who loved him.

Susy said...

I too am wrapped in my blanket - reflecting on the day. All I can say to you? HUGS...

darsden said...

Beautiful tribute :-)

Anonymous said...

Very sweet words to a very special man! I'm sorry for the loss & the ugliness that people want to tag onto him. He was greatly admired and deserves to rest in peace.
Be thankful for your many memories. They sound wonderful!

crazymomof4 said...

i just came across your blog this week, and weirdly enough it is the week i needed it most.

having grown up knowing about joepa for the last 42 years and having made the choice to attend penn state so many years ago, i feel as though i have lost something big this week...

i didn't choose to attend psu because of the amazing academics, or the awesome campus...i wanted to feel like i was part of a family. if you haven't gone, you don't understand...if you have, you know exactly what i'm talking about.

my heart goes out to his family. if i feel this sad i can't even imagine how they feel.

thanks for all you've done coach...you will be missed and not forgotten.

Brian Miller said...

i got few words today.

i hear you.

Suzy said...

My heart goes out to the children he ignored in their hour of need.

Mellodee said...

The saddest thing of all is that his memory, image, and reputation are now forevermore tainted by those who must have never made an unfixable mistake. I cannot believe that "Suzy" chose this post which shows your grief over his loss, to ignore all of the good in his life to point a long, unforgiving finger at a mistake for which he paid dearly.

I prefer to evaluate one's worth based on the whole of one's life, not on one lapse in a lifetime of good judgement.

I think I read somewhere, "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone...." That book must have gone out of print!

Paige said...

great post. I hope a lot of people read it and think.

That Janie Girl said...

Beautiful. Love you.

Linda M. said...

Beautifully said!! Your last lines "We are.... Weeping" put tears in my toast.
Why do I read your blog while eating breakfast? Most of the time I end up choking on my food. Today I choked on my tears.

Thank you, and hugs to you!!

Carol McNab said...

What a beautiful post! This past week has been so hard, especially since I'm so far away from "the valley" and haven't really been able to share my sadness with anyone who really understands what JoePa meant to all of us who attended Penn State or lived in the area. I was so awed when I visited campus for the first time in many years and had a chance to finally see the library addition that he and Sue funded. He was so much more than a coach, and he will be missed!

Chris said...

With a tight throat and tear-filled eyes I respond to your hurt. I just lost my dad last week...and my son wrote a song for the funeral that said, "you taught me that life is more than just breathing...sometimes its just being". JoePa's legacy was being... a leader and a hero, a husband, father and grandfather...may he rest in peace.

Karen Harrington said...

What a beautiful tribute. Love and hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

Suzy said it for me.

Mike said...

R.I.P Joe Pa. We shouldn't pass judgment on him for another man's sins. If he were a rock star all would be forgiven.

F**cking media vultures!

The Print Blog said...

Joe Paterno was a great coach and inspirational individual to look up to. His legacy will live on.

Nursejoan said...

Straight from the heart . . . thank you, Vodkamom.

We are

Penn State

Mourning and reflecting.

Suzy and Anonymous - move on to another forum to express your shallow thoughts.

Anonymous said...

nursejoan, the truth is shallow thoughts?

Sherri said...

I am sad. But not for Paterno. I am thinking of the mothers, sisters, grandmothers of all of those victims.

This great man had many choices but in the end he let those kids down.

What about THEIR families?

Celebrate his good deeds but always remember:

He had a choice. Every single day of his life from the day he found out. He had a chance to help the those kids be raised unharmed. You can remember what you want as far as the good but never forget that he had many,many choices to stop this-and he did not.

All you mothers: what if it was your child? But I guess as long as it isn't, as long as YOUR kids are unharmed-then he stays a great man.

I am sad.

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