Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lima Time! A Happy Memory of a Good Man

As much as a lot of celebrities, sports stars, and persons of note pass, and many times it turns out that their death was a result of their inability to control or deal with their their fame and fortune, there are those other tragic stories of a truly decent, gifted person, with role model stuff. Talent, charisma, and a gift of being able to impart that way of appreciating life and living it to the fullest, to others. Jose Lima was such a person, and he died this morning.
He passed away this morning at his home in California. What a heartbreaking piece of news. My condolences to Jose's family and friends. As one who loves the sport of baseball, I can say that there are few who measure up to the caliber of person that Jose Lima embodied. A truly gifted athlete, he was so much more as a person. He was the light of the Astros team, and a person who loved his life and lived it to the fullest. In addition to a talented baseball pitcher, he was a great dancer, and a talented singer in his own salsa band.
I am a father, and the one "Lima Time" moment that I will forever remember, was at at game in the Astrodome. It was before the start of the game, and Jose and some of the young PR girls were tossing soft Astros promotional "baseballs" into the crowd. My oldest son was maybe four at the time, and he ran from our seats down to the rail by the Astros bullpen along the first base line in the outfield and disappeared into the crow lining the rail, as they were down to one last ball - in Jose's hand, to toss into the crowd. I watched him look into the crowd of fans and kids lined up with outstretched hands. Then I saw his face light up with the sweetest big Lima smile that was so typical of Jose, then he walked to the railing and disappeared behind the crowd standing there. A couple of seconds later my little beaming, grinning Stephen came running back to our seats a couple of rows up, holding the ball the Jose handed to him. As I sit here with a tear on my cheek, after hearing the tragic news, I can safely say that that smile as he locked gazes with my little boy, and the one that he put on my boy's face that day, is the way I will forever remember Jose Lima. I am eternally grateful for the one little thing Jose did and for the influence that it had on myself, and most surely on my son. A truly wonderful soul. Rest in peace, Jose.