The beloved television commentator would be stepping down after a magnificent career spanning several decades. His baritone voice provided comfort in times of chaos. His was the measured response to uncertainty. He was our favorite uncle, a confidant who helped us see the light through the darkness.
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He orchestrated his final show a year in advance. He would not be one of those aging stars who can't give up the spotlight. He would choose when to take his final bow. He planned out what he would say very carefully in a three-minute goodbye speech. Corporate headquarters, recognizing his greatness, agreed to let him have that time.
The day of his final show arrived. His guests were the customary fascinating personalities. Throughout the show he kept his composure. As was expected, there was a 90-second commercial break before the final goodbye. A production manager sprinted onto the set and said the station needed to cut away because a golf tournament had gone into a playoff situation. Our host was devastated.
He asked how long he would have. He was told he'd have 15 seconds. Being an unflappable professional, he quickly summarized a 20-year career in 15 seconds. But as he walked off the stage, it was not with authority, but with an overwhelming sadness and emptiness. Is this all there is?
So what's the point? What's the lesson? Don't wait until the final chapter, until the final curtain call, to say what needs to be said. Take advantage of each day, of each moment, to say thank you or to ask forgiveness of those you may have offended.
Mar. 02, 2011