I always say finding the good isn’t hard if you want to find it. This week found me thinking of the good and the thankful, as they were prevalent in my world on a personal scale. I had actually thought about it the last few weeks as I watched people memorialize George W. Bush. It was the first time I’d seen political divisions lessen, and it warmed my heart to see the things people appreciated about a man who clearly put people first in his life.
This week, it happened again closer to home. John McCowen worked for the Carson-Macedonia, Oakland, and Riverside School Districts. He spanned 3 school districts with 57 years of service. 57 years! That’s truly incredible. There are people who can’t stay in a job more than 2 weeks, and he made it 57 years and, let me assure you, the educational system is not for the weak at heart. But he reminded me of another man I worked with in Bellevue who, when you asked him how his day was going, every day he answered with “Best day of my life!” I believe Mr. McCowen lived with the same theory of “Be Happy in the Day!” I remember his laughter and his excitement over sporting events. He was the dad that never missed his kids’ games. He was the guy who chose to coach cross country the first year for free just so there’d be a cross country team. He was the guy who drove a bus because they needed someone to drive a bus. John McCowen was a doer.
I noticed at his funeral visitation that there was a plaque that said something to the effect of “No child has their best day watching television.” He played cards. He hunted. He fished. He played golf. He was on the move, but he always had time to talk. And isn’t that what we always hope for? That someone will always have time for us?
Over 400 people showed up Wednesday night to show their respect for a man that made time to chat. They showed up with thankful hearts and fun stories and good memories, not only for John, but for his family, as well. For we lead by example. I believe that Mr. McCowen taught the value of making time for others. When I heard he was ill, my first thought was of the Riverside Hall of Fame induction this fall. Luckily, he was honored for has almost-6-decades of service. The thing that stood out to me was his enjoyment of the moment, of the event, of the sheer appreciation of the people he was sitting with and what was happening. I have this wonderful picture of him laughing with Carm Pigneri, clearly enjoying the moment. He knew how to “Be Happy in the Day.” Whether you’re a “This is the Day the Lord hath made, Let us rejoice and be Glad in it” or whether you are a “Be Happy in the Day” kind of person, it fit him.
I’m a worrier by nature, and I struggle to “Be Happy in the Day” often, but I respect those that can and aspire to be better at it. John McCowen had it figured out. And he knew the value of taking time to talk. We live in a world where that value is quickly going by the wayside. So today, I remind you to take the time to stop and chat. And I remind you to be thankful for the good and kind servants put on this earth to help kids, especially those that give them 57 years. That’s a life well-lived.
You can’t do much better than that…
So, friends, go forth and “Be Happy in the Day” in his honor.
Also, a special thank you to his family that shared him with all, and should you feel the urge, you may make donations to the Riverside Booster Club for a new marquee in the McCowen name. Contact Niki Ford to do so.