Meeting Mr. Kelly….

This post is a departure of what we usually write about here on this blog but it goes along with the theme and mission of our Fredette Family Foundation…. and that is to help and be of service to one another in any way that we can.

I want to tell you of an unexpected time that I had the opportunity to help and be of service to someone.   I’m not sure that I told my children (maybe I mentioned it in passing to Lindsay, my daughter) but if they read this they will read it for the first time. This is not to brag about helping someone, but rather I’m considering it a blessing for me to help this man named Mr. Kelly, who I’ve never forgotten, even though it was more than 20 years ago.  On this day he called me his guardian angel.  Let’s just say that I received much more than I gave to him.  This is my story.

The time of year was in late Fall when the nights were starting to get very cool.  For some reason, and I can’t even remember why, I was coming in on the Amtrak train from NYC to the Ft. Edward, NY station, about 50 miles north of Albany.  My husband was scheduled to pick me up at 9:00 PM.  Finally we got to my stop and I exited the train.  I was the only person that was to get off there…so I thought.  My husband was not there yet but I knew that he would be coming along soon, so I stood under the overhang of the rooftop of the station.  This particular station and its services for passengers coming in had been long since abandoned and there was no activity or signs of life around this old, crooked, dark building.   The only light I had was from the street light that was adjacent to me.

Usually when all of the passengers exit the train at their destinations, the door closes swiftly behind them and they take off immediately.  This night they didn’t speed away as I expected.  I noticed when I exited and turned around to face the train about 20 feet away, in the light of the doorway, stood the conductor talking to a man.  He was a smallish older gentleman with white hair.  As I observed them further, I noticed that the white haired man had an oxygen tank that he wheeled along side of him.  They spoke for a few minutes and I could sense that there was a desperate aura around both of them.  From the hand gestures of the older man, I could tell that he was upset over something.  The conductor seemed to be in a quandary as to what to do because he was under pressure to keep the schedule of the train.

Finally the conductor looked out of the train and spotted me standing there under the very dimly lit area.  He came out to me carrying the man’s suitcase, set it down beside me, and asked if I could help this man. He needs a ride.  To his great relief, I said sure I’ll help him.  The conductor assisted the man out of the train with his oxygen tank and they both came over.  The conductor thanked me and the man just nodded with a smile.  I hadn’t even done anything yet, but I guess I relieved the anxiety that both of them were experiencing at the time. I felt no fear of this small, white haired stranger even though it was just him and I in an area with very little light.   How afraid would anyone be of a small old man with tubes in his nose from the oxygen tank that assisted him with his breathing?  The conductor waved to us, hurried back to the train and it soon departed.

The man and I introduced ourselves and as he told me his name, both first and last, all I picked up was his last name….Kelly.  So I just called him Mr. Kelly.  He was a very friendly, animated man and it didn’t take me long to notice that he didn’t speak like a person from the USA.  He had a thick accent that was unmistakable to me as to where he was from. I could hear that he was from England and I was guessing, but almost certain, that he was from a particular part of England because he spoke just like The BEATLES did!  Not like the royal family British accent, but from Beatle-land!!!…. Liverpool, England!!!  Anyone that knows my group of friends from our teenage years, knows that we LOVED the Beatles.  We actually were able to go to Shea Stadium, thanks to one of my aunts who lived in that area, to see them in concert.  Yes, we were fanatics and picking up on someone else that spoke in that particular accent and dialect was easy!  It’s like the difference in how a person from Brooklyn, NY speaks as opposed to upstate NY.  Very different and very distinguishable.  So I proceeded to ask him where he was from….sure enough, he was from Liverpool, England!

Mr. Kelly told me that he was under the impression that there would be a full service train station here and that he would be able to catch a taxi or a shuttle service to get to his hotel.  It was then that I realized how desperate and fearful he must have felt as he looked out the window of the train approaching his stop.  It was not filled with the activity of a full service train station, but rather a dark, desolate, empty train station.  Ft. Edward, NY is a great, friendly, little town, but it’s a very small town where most people settle in for the night and there is not much action on the streets.  Anyone of us can imagine the fear that Mr. Kelly must have felt being in, not only in an unknown dimly lit town, but in an unknown country.  An able bodied Mr. Kelly could have gotten some help somewhere by someone…. but this was a vulnerable, weakened man depending on oxygen to keep him alive.

He was here to have a reunion with some of his old friends and they choose to meet in beautiful Lake George, NY.  Seemed like it was on their “bucket list” to meet one last time. When I look back I think about the determination and great desire he had to fulfill this last journey in his life.  It clearly wasn’t an easy trip for him to make.  Since his friends also weren’t very familiar with this area, they assumed Mr. Kelly would not have a problem getting a taxi to bring him up to the hotel.  This was back in the days when we didn’t have the convenience of calling someone on their cell phone.

My husband, Al, soon arrived and I told him that we needed to give this man a ride up to Lake George.  If you know Al, you know how kind and charitable he is.  He would have carried the man up there on his back if he had to just to help him out, so of course he said… “hop in, no problem.”  Mr. Kelly insisted that we didn’t need to do that but rather  just give him a ride to where he could make a phone call or to a taxi service.  He was such a nice man and so grateful just to be in contact with people willing to help him in this strange, unfamiliar country.  We wouldn’t hear of that and gave him a ride straight up to the Lake George hotel.

We let him sit in the front seat to make it easier on him with his oxygen tank and put his luggage in the back.  I sat in the middle of the back seat so I could eagerly lean forward to hear him talk.  I so enjoyed hearing that accent.  Of course it didn’t take me long to ask the big question.  I couldn’t resist.  After all, he was from the land of The Beatles.  “Did you ever see the Beatles play in Liverpool?” I asked.   He laughed a little and was very forthcoming with his stories about the Beatles.  I was thrilled to hear, yes, he did see them.  He called them “lads” and said he saw them before they were called “The Beatles”.  He said they were called the Quarrymen and several other names before they settled on The Beatles.  I knew he was right because I was an expert on the history of The Beatles.  They were just starting out when Mr. Kelly would see them and there were guys that were in and out of the original band.  They were a work in progress but they were beginning to become popular in the area “pubs,” as he called them.  Little did Mr. Kelly know how popular they would become.  He said that many similar group bands were springing up all over Liverpool and all over the whole country of England.  It was called the British Invasion when they began to filter into the United States.  If you grew up anywhere near the 60s, you are well aware of those times. What great music that was and actually still is.  It was like a walk back to my teen years as Mr. Kelly talked.  So we very much enjoyed our conversation with his lively personality with an intriguing Liverpool accent.  He called it a “scouser” accent for those of you interested in looking it up.  Just a thought I’ve always had….have you ever noticed that when a person that has a British accent or any accent, sings, the accent goes away?  Interesting how that happens.  It definitely happened in the Beatles’ music.

Finally we arrived up at the hotel in Lake George.  We helped him in and waited to make sure that his friends were there.  They were….and he invited them down to meet us.  Very nice also and were grateful after they heard that there was no transportation for Mr. Kelly at the station other than us….he obviously was their much loved friend.  They asked us if they could take us to dinner the next night but unfortunately we weren’t able to do that.  Before we left, we exchanged addresses so we could maybe keep in touch.  The next day sometime during late morning, I got a knock on the door.  As I looked out, I saw a big beautiful bouquet of flowers ready to be delivered to me.  I looked at the card and it read….”To my guardian angel.”  Thank you….(signed) Mr.  Kelly

I think when he got back to England, we wrote at least one time to each other but that was it.  Mr. Kelly was not a well man.  He told us of a heart problem that he had and after listening to him struggle to breathe, I understood that this trip was probably the last trip that he would take.  I felt strongly that he probably passed away a couple of months after he arrived home.

Some might say how lucky he was to have me there to help him to his destination…. but I say how lucky and blessed I was to meet such a wonderful, lovely, friendly man like Mr. Kelly.  I’m sure that 100% of those reading this would have done the same thing to help this man, so I don’t feel special in that way, but I feel like maybe I was meant to be there at that time to meet him.  What a blessing and a privilege it was for me.

I think that opportunities and certain special situations in life are all about timing.  Some good, some bad.  You hear people say that you were in the “right place at the right time” and you also hear about being in the “wrong place at the wrong time.”  I think that we sometimes find ourselves in a situation on God’s perfect timing.  My husband is never late and he is very respectful of me when it comes to picking me up….but on this night, for the first time, he was late.  If he hadn’t been late, I would have been gone and there would have been no one there to help this man…. who actually reminded me of my father.  I believe that was an example of God’s timing.

Mr. Kelly said that I was “his guardian angel” and I’d like to think that that was true.  I wasn’t a guardian angel in the mystical sense where I appeared out of nowhere then magically disappeared.  (although I believe that can happen and has happened to people).  There used to be a song back in the Oldies era called “Earth Angel”.   I think that’s maybe what I was…an earth angel for Mr. Kelly.  Every single one of us has the chance or potential to be someone else’s “earth angel”.  Those opportunities present themselves to us every day.  A kind word or a kind gesture may be all it takes to change someone’s day…. or even someone’s life.

Would Mr. Kelly have made it to his hotel in Lake George without my help?  Yes maybe he would have, but not without much fear and anxiety for him.  I think he would have had to sit down on someone’s porch steps so that he could rest. The center of town where he may have possibly found a phone or a place open, was about a quarter of a mile away….that’s over 1300 steps that this poor man would have had to take wheeling his oxygen tank and carrying his luggage through an unknown, lonely, dark street.  He would have had to choose whether to go left or right, and if he guessed wrong, it would have taken him on an even longer route. The average person would have no problem making it up the street, but for Mr. Kelly and all of his health challenges, it would have been tough.

So the point of my story is that you never know when you are going to be called upon and be given the honor and priviledge to be of service to someone else…..someone’s earth angel.  I’m sure many of you have stories like this and have received the blessing of being able to help someone in need.  The “feeling” that you receive when you have helped someone and gone that extra mile is something very special.  It’s like on Christmas day….we all like to get a present or two but how much more fun and special is it to watch someone open something that you picked out for them.  It’s no accident that are spirits soar and we feel good when we do something nice for someone else. It’s how we are all wired.  Just like when we do something bad to someone or do something wrong, we feel bad inside.

In closing, this is not to say that you don’t have to be careful in helping out total strangers, because you do, but in the case of Mr. Kelly, my instincts told me that he was no one to fear and I think if you rely on that and the spirit, you will know too.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,

Kay

This is what the train station looks like now. I don’t think it is in service now either, but it was renovated and painted and they tried to put a little restaurant and shop in there. When my story happened, it was not painted, and looked very scary and abandoned. There were no lights anywhere except from the street light across from where I stood. Can you imagine Mr. Kelly’s thoughts as we pulled into it?

This is the lonely dark street that Mr. Kelly would have had to walk down to the middle of town.

 

 

 

 

 

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FROM CHINA TO DENVER – THE ONE CONSTANT FOR JIMMER

If the phrase, “time flies when you’re having fun,” has any merit, and I believe it does, then Jimmer’s trip home to Denver over Chinese New Year break must have felt like it was over within less than a nano second. I mean let’s face it, when you’re dealing with a 13 hour flight one way, the amount of hours you spend relaxing on your four day trip is literally almost equivalent to the amount of hours you spend in the air. Some might say that with that kind of flight to vacation time ratio, the long haul across the planet might not have even been worth the jet lag for Jimmer. However, I guess anyone who would say that, surely didn’t take into account exactly what Jimmer was going home for.

The drastic ups and downs of Jimmer’s roller coaster of a career could make the rides at Six Flags look like a slide at Chuck E. Cheese. The highs and lows can be overwhelming, and at times be very difficult to put into proper perspective. Fortunately for Jimmer, throughout it all, there has always been one crucial constant. Whether he was lighting it up at the Garden, sitting at the end of the bench in New Orleans, gazing out the window of his hotel room after a D League back to back in Des Moines, with 30 below winds whipping across the cornfields outside, or he was clear across the Pacific Ocean, hitting game winning free throws in Singapore in front of a crowd full of ecstatic non-English speaking fans, he’s always had that one constant to help him stay grounded. That one constant, is the exact thing that he was beyond thrilled to hop on a 13 hour flight last week to go see…. even if it was only for a short while. That one constant, is his family. His wife Whitney who he adores, and who is now carrying their first child due to be born in less than a month, and his picture perfect Golden Retriever named George, who lights up like a stadium every time Jimmer returns home. His family was there before the fame, during the fame, and will still be there when the fame is long gone. They’ve been there through his most challenging moments, to take on his struggles with him, and help lift him up when the pitfalls of an unforgiving spotlight tried to keep him down. They were there to celebrate with him, when the thrills of success were thrust upon him in abundance. They were there to help him make some of the toughest decisions he’s ever had to make in his life (well, maybe George had no part in the decision making process, but certainly Whitney). Those tough decisions include the decision to make a heartfelt sacrifice to leave his family behind and travel across the world to begin a new, exciting, but somewhat scary chapter of his career, in a country that he had never been to, and really knew nothing about. They were there through it all, and are there at this very moment, as his career in China begins to soar to heights we never knew would be possible on another continent.  Knowing that they are there. . . there at home, waiting for him to return after months of being away. . . there on those days when it seems like everything on the court is going against him. . . there when a sports reporter paints  a picture of negativity on the canvas of his career, there when he puts up 51 and leads his team to a big victory. . . but even more importantly, there when everything goes quiet, when the spotlight is no longer targeting his every step, when the critics no longer have him on their radar, and the fans have moved on to the next big thing. Those are the moments when Jimmer realizes more than ever, that he already has everything he needs. His wife, and his family…that is the one constant. They are what made 26 total hours on a plane for only a four day stay, way beyond worth it for Jimmer. They are always there, and that’s what keeps him grounded, and that’s what keeps him happy. . . no matter what.

…Now for a quick update on the Sharks. Coming off of the Chinese New Year Break, the Sharks were able to fight off a rusty start, to come back after being down 14 points to Qingdao, picking up another big victory and keeping their undefeated home streak alive. Jimmer lead the team with 37. Now the Sharks prepare for the last couple weeks of the regular season as they fight tooth and nail to enter the playoff picture as the number one seed. With some red hot teams out there neck and neck with the Sharks, such as Carlos Boozer and the Guangdong Southern Tigers, hanging on to that one seed will certainly be a challenge – but one I believe that Shanghai is up for! Stay tuned to see how the rest of this exciting regular season unfolds, as the CBA gears up for an intense, competitive playoff run!

Here are some pictures and a video of some of the beautiful sites in Shanghai.

george-and-crew

jimmer-whitney This is why he traveled so far for only 4 days at home.

jimmer-whit

whitney-jimmer-baby-almost-here

and baby makes 3… but 4 when you count George

 

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0b9cd880cb98f6d41ac4bb578a95f5ff                                 back to work….

all-star-game        jimmer-being-interviewed            china-pic

Beautiful sunset...they are 12 hours ahead of us normally but with the time change it's 13 hours ahead now.

Beautiful sunset…they are 12 hours ahead of us normally but with the time change it’s 13 hours ahead now.

 

 

BIG NIGHT IN MY PARENT’S HOMETOWN…

This past week in the small town of Whitehall, New York, the town where my parents grew up, something very inspirational took place at the local High School. The Whitehall Railroaders varsity basketball team took the court Friday night in front of a packed hometown crowd to play what would certainly be the most memorable game of the season. During the game, one of the players, a young man by the name of Evan St Clair, reached the special milestone of scoring the 1,000th point of his high school career. Evan is a very talented player who comes from a gifted athletic family, and myself and the rest of the Fredettes want to congratulate him on his wonderful achievement. He definitely has a very bright future as a talented athlete, and we wish him the best of luck with the rest of his career!

As special as Evan’s 1000 point achievement was, it wasn’t the only exciting moment of Friday night’s game. Evan’s teammate and first cousin, another talented St Clair named Danny, also gave the Railroader enthusiasts reason to get up out of their seats and cheer. Danny’s presence on that court alone Friday night was cause for a standing ovation. Just by stepping out on that gym floor, sporting that maroon and white Whitehall jersey, Danny provided everyone in attendance a true moment of heart warming inspiration.  His fight for that very moment, to be able to be back on that court with his childhood friends, representing his school and his community with pride, was one of unwavering determination and bravery. A fight that no kid should ever have to endure, but one that Danny proved to be strong enough to take on.

For awhile now, Danny StClair has been battling a very challenging bout of cancer. I can only imagine the obstacles that stood in his way as he literally fought for his life. . . but Danny showed everyone this past week, that fighting for his life meant that he was fighting for more than just his survival. He was fighting to get back the same life that he had before he was diagnosed with cancer.  He was fighting for that moment when he could lace up his sneakers, throw on his warm ups, and run out on to that court with his teammates once again. . . and this past Friday night, after months of grueling adversity, that’s exactly what he did.  All the pain, all the tribulation, and all the moments of doubt, had finally been overcome when he touched the ball for the first time during Friday night’s game.  His story has certainly inspired me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been uplifted by Danny’s courage and resilience.

What an amazing night it was in the little town of Whitehall. I know that my grandfather, a man who devoted his whole life to Whitehall athletics and working with young athletes to help mold them into successful people on and off the playing field, was certainly looking down from heaven with pride as Evan and Danny represented the town in such a monumental way. So I just wanted to say  Congratulations guys! You boys really put on a show.  It was an inspiring performance that so many of us, will surely never forget.