Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Happier Times!

"The Last Huddle"

The picture above was taken on the football field at Tabor College.  This was on November 15, 2008.  The last football game of the season and of Marcus' career.  This very moment was after ground breaking for the new field.  It was a rare picture of all four of us.  Usually one of us is always missing because one had to be taking the picture.  This time Marcus was holding the camera.  There were other attempts but his shot came out the best.  It was so cold that day.  Typical Kansas weather.  It was a bitter sweet day.  Sweet because Marcus knew it was another milestone in his leaving college and moving on with his life.  Sweet because Tabor was embarking on an ambitious project of rebuiling old Reimer Field to something a bit more modern.  Bitter because his playing days at Tabor eneded on a loss.  Bitter because this day marked a possible end to his football days.  Marcus was thinking of trying out with one of the indoor/arena leagues.  His coach had mentioned that he had a try-out with the Wichita team.  Marcus had always aspired to kick in the NFL, but he knew his limitations.  Even with the imminent end of his kicking days, on this day he was not ready for his dream to end.  He wanted to continue kicking, even in the lower leagues.  Even if were just as a feather in his advertising hat for his Personal Training career.  He thought his future personal training clients would love a professional athlete managing their physical training.  Of course sometimes he would let his imagination let fly.  He would often say to me, "How excited do you think people will get about fitness if the get a chance to be trained by a former Dallas Cowboy?  They would go ape-shit!" 

"Last Game Day Exit at Reimer Field"

After games, win or lose, Marcus was always one of the first players to leave the locker room.  On this day, Marcus really took his time.  He made sure to thank all his coaches and I think he shook every players' hand from both teams.  It seems so ominous to me now.  I am a very superstitious person and I usually do not make special efforts to commemorate moments like the two instances the photos above capture.  I titled the image at the top of this page "The Last Huddle", which proves to be true.  Because, now only in our hearts and minds can we all four huddle once again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Another Monday! More sanity lost...

Most days when things are slow, I like to daydream that this is what you are doing.
Instead of being gone!
Just  wandering around a museum in Europe oblivious of the world around.
I miss you son - We all miss you!

Monday, July 19, 2010

How many times have you cried today?

I have lost count.  From when I wake up in the morning to when I lay my head to sleep, I must cry at least a dozen times a day now.

When was the last time you cried?

I guess before my son's accident I may go a whole year and just cry two or three times.  But now everything reminds me of Marcus or of the pains Patricia, Alex and Mydia go through because of Marcus' loss.

I look at my wife and I think of times she spent with Marcus.  I look at my son and I think of the things they did together.  My Mother-In-Law just the other day mentioned to my wife that she misses the boys terribly.  Both of them because Alex and Marcus hung out a lot at their Mydia's house during the summer.  Marcus still kept a room there - so he had two Texas homes.  Marcus would pick-up Alex from our home in Plano and they will spend days with their Grandmother.

Now Alex is guilt ridden because he knows he should spend time with Mydia, but the motivatiion is not there.  I do not know if he is avoiding the old house, but it is not one of his favorite destinations since the accident.  In fact Alex has not really spent anytime at my Mother's either.  I do not want to read into it, but sometimes I think he is just wanting new and different experiences.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I am a little more insane now...

Ever since our son's accident:

  • I cry at least five times a day.  I am certain my wife cries more times than me.
  • I count how many people I pass or that pass me on the road to and from work that are texting - an average of nine people a day.  That in less than an hour of driving round-trip.
  • I obsessively read the Obituary Section of our local newspaper.
  • I tend to have a knack at looking at the time at 2:22
  • I seem to pass multiple Red Mitsubishi Eclipses everyday.
  • I haven't slept peacefully.
  • Family gatherings have absolutely no appeal - or have become anxious events.
  • We have not eaten Dickey's barbecue, it was the food we were about to have the night we found out about the accident.
  • I listen to these songs daily, Chris Tomlin's " I Will Rise", Tenth Avenue North's "Times", The Fray's "How to Save a Life", Hillsong's "Mighty to Save".  They break my heart over and over but I cannot skip a day.
  • I make lists...constantly
Our crazy pack from left to right - Flopsy, Mikey, Shilo and Maggie.  Two dachshunds and two beagles.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Obituary and Rememberances (Tabor 2009 Graduation Ceremony)

Our son Marcus was scheduled to graduate in May 2009.  Marcus was a fifth year senior and needed every bit of his years at Tabor to attain his degree.  Tabor College, its Board of Directors and the faculty were kind enough to award him his degree posthumously.  Our youngest son Alex received his Big Bro's diploma for him.  Alex was incredibly brave and we were so proud of both of our boys that day.

Here are some post ceremony pictures.

Alex and Kevin, Marcus' roommate for three years at Tabor and was the punter for the Tabor Bluejays .

Alex and Mario, Marcus' last roommate at Tabor.

Alex and TJ another Dallas kid that came to Tabor to play football the same year Marcus did.

Alex with Jenny and Joanna

Joanna and Jenny opening gifts at their Graduation Party.  Jo and Jenny were Marcus' TownHome neighbors and were very instrumental in Marcus truly experiencing Tabor College.

Obituary and Rememberances (First College Football Game at Joel H. Wiens Halftime Memorial)

There were tears and cheers during the first college football game played at the new Joel H. Wiens Stadium on Saturday evening, Sept. 19, 2009 a contest between Tabor College and Bethany College. Spectators on both sides of the field paid tribute to the late Tabor football player, Marcus Manny, in an emotional halftime ceremony which honored his family and announced the creation of the new Marcus Manny Memorial Prayer Garden.

Tears flowed as the Tabor community remembered the transformed life of the 23-year-old senior, who died in a one-car accident on Feb. 22, near the Oklahoma-Kansas border, an inexplicable tragedy that still continues to be felt deeply on campus.

The late Marcus Manny was remembered during halftime of the Tabor College vs. Bethany College game on Saturday, Sept. 19, at Joel H. Wiens Stadium. The ceremony was conducted by former teammates and classmates and included Manny’s family (at center, from left) Roland and Trisha Miranda, and younger brother, Alex, as well as Tabor President Dr. Jules Glanzer (at right). Manny, a 23-year-old senior and kicker, lost his life in a one-car accident on Feb. 22, near the Oklahoma-Kansas border. (Tabor College Photo by Vance Frick).

Narrating the student-led ceremony on the stadium’s loudspeakers, Dr. Wendell Loewen, Dean of Spiritual Formation and Campus Pastor, said, “Marcus was a treasured part of almost every friend circle as he daily made it a point to show kindness and equality to everyone he met. He was well known for his contagious smile, notable laugh, and his signature apparel choice of a white hat and white T-shirt.

“While the campus recognizes a gaping hole where his love used to be, it realizes the importance of transforming the grief into an outpouring of the love of Jesus,” he added. “Tragedy happens, and to it meaning and purpose must be affixed. The love of God flowed through Marcus, and those touched by his life should not go unchanged….”

On the field were Manny’s family, Roland and Trisha Miranda, and his brother, Alex, traveled from Dallas, Texas, for the special event. Representing the college were former teammates, Tex Rogers, Mario Nava, and Jason Aubry; fellow students and friends, Joanna Chapa, Jenny Gaskell, and Katie Mount; and Tabor College President Dr. Jules Glanzer.

“This was a wonderful time of healing for Marcus’ family,” Glanzer said afterward. “Tabor has become a new home for their family and a place where they can experience healing and process the grief of their great loss. We were honored to have them be here for this wonderful tribute, which was the highlight of our first game in the new stadium.”

As the family received bouquets of flowers, a basket of gifts, and an autographed football signed by their son’s former teammates, announcer Loewen continued, “Roland, Trisha, and Alex, we, the Tabor College community want to continue to come alongside you, support you, and show Christ’s love to you. We want to let you know we are still with you, remembering Marcus and his impact on our campus. Together we serve a loving God who is mighty to save, comfort, and empower.”

Loewen announced that to honor and bless Manny’s memory, the Tabor College community, together with his family, would be creating the Marcus Manny Memorial Prayer Garden, to be located west of the Campus Recreation Center, next to the stadium.

A place for student fellowship and quiet reflection, the garden will include a tree planted in memory of Marcus provided by the Tabor College Student Senate. Inscribed on the accompanying plaque will be a quote from the Book of Zephaniah, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

“This prayer garden is to serve as a tangible display of God’s passionate love,” Loewen said. “It is our intention that this garden be a way for Jesus to meet those who enter, through the beauty of God’s creation.”

On Saturday, following a moment of silence, Loewen led the quieted stadium in prayer:

“Our God, there are so many seasons in life that bring joy, pain, fulfillment, and sorrow. Though these seasons change, your never-failing love remains constant. We remember Marcus for his smile, no matter how the game was going. May you grant us the strength and courage to carry on that joy and love you displayed through him, for the rest of this game, this season, the school year, and the duration of our lives. In your precious, son Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.”

In closing, Loewen asked the crowd to “applaud the family’s on-going strength through these times.”

Bluejays’ fans, many dressed in white, stood for a long, heartfelt ovation, as Manny’s family smiled, waved, and wept on the 50-yard line. Across the field, Bethany College fans stood and applauded, as well.

click here to see the original posting on Tabor College's web site

Obituary and Rememberances (Tabor College President Blog Entry)

No Answers but Hope - February 24th, 2009 
Click here for the original post on Tabor College President's Journal
Yesterday, February 23, the Tabor College community experienced what every college president dreads from the first day they take office. We all know that it will happen at some time, and we have thought through possible responses. But we sincerely hope it will not happen. We received word that the night before one of our students had been killed in a car accident. Shock, disbelief, questions, tears… we are a family and one of us is gone.

Marcus Manny, a senior student who was the kicker on the football team had a car accident that took his life. While traveling back to Tabor after having been to his home in the Dallas area for his mothers birthday on Sunday, he lost control of the vehicle.

We canceled chapel and brought the students together for a time of reflection and grieving. We are hosting numerous small groups during the week to assist the students in dealing with this tragic loss. Marcus’ mother told me that she was so thankful for the “Skittles guy” but did not know who this person was. What she did know is that Marcus had made a significant commitment to Christ as a result of the “skittles guy.” The skittles guy is Brian Classen, the pastor at Papillion NE who was our spiritual emphasis week speaker this fall. He had used a package of skittles to illustrate his point. Marcus had gotten the point, made a commitment which resulted in a change, and now is with the one to whom he committed his life. We do not have answers to the questions we all have, but we do have hope. Hope in the only one who has conquered death… Jesus Christ.

Arrangements are still pending. We will have a memorial service on campus for Marcus and will also participate in some way at the service in Dallas. We are considering chartering buses for the football team to be present.

Hanging around college students often gives the illusion of immortality. Young, full of energy, with a world to conquer. And then we have a reality check such as this. We are citizens of two realms… the visible and invisible. We live with a sense of here and there… the temporal and the eternal. May we infuse this world with the vision and values of the eternal. “Marcus, we will all miss you in this world but our hope is in Jesus which gives us a confidence that you are with Him.”

Comments left on the Tabor College President's Blog

Dr. Linda Cantwell // Feb 24, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Marcus represents what we so often refer to as the “Tabor Transformation.” A life that has been changed as the result of spending four critical years in college. Marcus Manny, the young man in my Public Speaking class in the fall of 2004 was not the same young man I spoke with in the cafeteria last Thursday. He was different. He was really different.

As an 18-year old freshman in a required Public Speaking course, his non-verbal communication cues were obvious — ball cap turned backwards, slouched in his chair, dark sunglasses covered his eyes and he arrived late each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He came alone to class and left the same way. I did not think he would make it to the end of the term. He was not happy to be in Kansas. Not happy to be at Tabor. And, certainly not happy to be in my Public Speaking class!

During the first week of the course, we talked about eight ways to introduce a speech. Humor was identified as successful in a speech introduction. Well, lo and behold, Marcus delivered his first speech with a spoon, turned upside down and affixed to his nose. It stayed there during his entire four-minute speech. I can’t remember his speech topic, but the spoon I will never forget. He laughed. I laughed. The students still laugh as we remind each other of the shared experience by placing a spoon near our noses in the cafeteria and laughing.

My favorite memory of Marcus involved his trying to reassure a very nervous young man in our speech class. The young man delivering his speech started learning on the podium and it began wildly rocking to and fro from his nervousness. Some of us thought the podium and the speaker might take flight. But, alas, Marcus stood up from the back of the room, ball cap and glasses intact, and yelled, “Stop rocking that podium. You’re driving my ADHD crazy, man. Stop!” The class room filled with laughter, the speaker’s nervousness vanished and the speech was delivered behind a non-rocking podium. After class the speaker put his arm on Marcus’ shoulder and said, “Thanks, man. You helped me out.” How cool was that?

Marcus brought laughter, joy and light-hearted moments to numerous situations all term. Before the end of the semester, the dark glasses came off, he started sitting closer to the front of the room and even began making eye contact and volunteering to demonstrate his learning by engaging in class discussions.

As I passed him on campus the years following our class together, his questions had deepened, his demeanor had changed, his self-assurance had increased, and the light in his eyes had brightened.

His tenacity and love of life will be treasured and long remembered by me. I consider it a sacred trust and privilege to have been able to witness a life transformed before my very eyes. He made me a better teacher, and I am grateful.

Marta Costa // Feb 25, 2009 at 3:53 pm

I met Marcus while he was travelling around Europe. He struck me as a very intelligent, fun and caring person. I am glad to say that he lived life to the full, and managed to see so much and meet so many different people before he went to a better place.

I only knew Marcus for three days. I met him in Rome. And I must say, and my friends will concur, Rome wouldn’t have been the same without Marcus!

I still remember our last hug, when I said “I will probably never see you again. Have a happy life.”.

What can I say… “Only the good die young”.

Just to let his family know, he really really cared about you. And Marcus really really liked his brother- if you are reading this, trust me… he told me all about you… all good things, dont you worry! )) Oh, not forgetting his DOGS! ))

I hope you manage to overcome all your sadness, and make sure you do some great things for other people in the name of Marcus.

?Alex (I think I can still remember your name, if not forgive me)… if you need anything, you can stay in touch with me via facebook. You are a great kid!

All the best.

Marta xxx

Sharon Bye // Feb 25, 2009 at 7:19 pm

I only met Marcus a couple of weeks ago on a Thursday at the end of my day. I own Cruise Holidays in Wichita and Marcus & a friend walked into my office to find out about taking a cruise over Spring Break. I have to say that I was exhausted and did not expect to spend almost 2 hours discussing their interests and questions. Marcus had many. I found myself entertained and drawn to him. He was so determined to take this cruise on March 22nd. He found another friend who was able to go and got this cruise booked.

I called him to come back in to finalize some paperwork and we spent another hour visiting about his trip to Europe (Venice in particular). He brought his masks into our office so that my husband and I could see them. Once again, I was so drawn to his enthusiasm and found myself looking forward to our next visit. I joked afterward with some of our staff about my being the “mother figure”. It was great. I do not find alot of opportunities to visit with young people who really enjoy sharing themselves like Marcus did.

Monday morning I noticed that the cruise tickets for Marcus and friend, Jason Pearson, were in my drawer and that Marcus would call Monday or Tuesday to set up a time to come in Tuesday to go over the tickets. I could not wait to see this young man again. I was going to bring the mask we had bought in Venice last August to the office the next day for him to see. I would block off plenty of time for more conversation about “whatever”. I have a 35 yr old son. His name is Patrick and it hit me hard when I learned that was Marcus’ middle name. WOW!  I hurt for his family and feel a little sorry for myself at the same time. I am always saying “Life is too short”. In fact that is one of the things Marcus and I talked about during his last visit. He wanted to experience as much as he could and see as much as he could before it was too late.

We were meant to have the TV News on Monday evening to the right channel to hear what had happened and are deeply saddened to know that his face will not brighten our office again. I find myself in an awkward place. I do not know Jason Pearson or have a phone number or address for him. I need to know what to do about this cruise and need Jason or Marcus parents to contact me to discuss this. This is one avenue provided to me to reach them. Sharon Bye, Owner – Cruise Holidays of Wichita, 214 S Rock Rd Suite 109, Wichita KS 67207 316-686-2900 800-624-4889

Obituary and Rememberances (Tabor Memorial)

Funeral services were held Saturday, Feb. 28, in Dallas, for Marcus Patrick Manny, 23, a senior and a kicker on the Tabor College football team, who was killed Feb. 22 in a one-car crash on Interstate 35 near Tonkawa, Okla. 

An entourage of about 100 Tabor College football coaches, players, students and administration officials traveled to the service on chartered buses. 

Manny’s jersey (No. 1) was framed and presented to the family and it was prominently displayed on the platform during the funeral. The chapel, which seats about 200, was filled to capacity for the service, with as many as 50 additional mourners standing in the back of the sanctuary. 

A campus memorial service was held Thursday night, Feb. 26, in the Chapel-Auditorium. The theme of the event was “A Celebration of Marcus’ Life,” and was planned and orchestrated by Manny’s friends.

The ceremony began with students, faculty, and staff filing into the Tabor College chapel to the sound of some of Manny’s favorite music and the sight of his picture projected onto the large screen.

Following a brief summary of Manny’s life by Campus Pastor Kevin Johnson, students read Scripture and sang a song called “Times.” A video commemorating Manny’s life was shown, compiled in part by his roommate, Mario Nava (Peabody, Kan.)

Although the evening’s mood was somber, laughter could be heard amidst the crying as students exchanged stories about the ways in which Manny had influenced them during his time at Tabor. Attendees of the service were invited to come to the front to share these stories. Some of them caused tears and some inspired laughter.

At the beginning of the service, attendees had received small cards with the outline of a white T-shirt printed on them, the article of clothing most characteristic of Manny.

Perhaps one of the most touching parts of the night occurred when, during a time of silence and meditation, students walked to the front to drop off these white sheets of paper on which they had written their memories of Manny.  The papers were given to Marcus’s family as a keepsake, to remind them of his legacy at Tabor. The number of people who walked to the front was a testament to the impact that Manny had on his peers. The service concluded with the reading of more Bible passages, the singing of “Mighty to Save,” a word from President Jules Glanzer reassuring the community of Manny’s commitment to Jesus Christ, and the benediction from Johnson.

Many people also went to Java Jays, the campus coffee shop, after the ceremony to share more memories of Manny, to sign white T-shirts for the Manny family, and to decorate pages to be included in a scrapbook for the family.

According to published reports, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Manny was northbound about 6:15 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22, when he ran off the road, over-corrected, hit an embankment and flipped his 2002 Mitsubishi Eclipse.

Fellow students, faculty and staff gathered in the Chapel Auditorium the following Monday morning to grieve and pray for the Manny family.

“The college campus is a close-knit community where deep relationships are forged,” Glanzer said. “When someone like Marcus is taken away from us, there is a noticeable hole in our life together. And yet I have been so impressed with how the students have grieved together. They have embraced the hurt, drawn strength from each other, and not shied away from asking the hard questions that have no easy answers.”

“Marcus was a likable student who had a wide range of friendships on campus,” Glanzer added. “His fun-loving and inspirational personality impacted so many of our students.”

Manny was responsible for one of the Bluejays’ two football victories this past season, kicking a game-winning 28-yard field goal against Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., with :07 left on the clock, securing a 32-29 victory.

Tabor Head Football Coach Mike Gottsch called Manny, “A competitor in every sense of the word.”

“Marcus was a tremendous senior leader for our young team,” Gottsch added. “He was well respected by everyone his persistence and positive nature. I will always remember him as a genuine caring, passionate, and kind individual. One who was a fierce competitor, but who competed with a smile on his face.”

In his career, Manny played in 27 games for the Bluejays, made 62 of 82 extra-point attempts, and 16 of 34 field goal attempts, with a career-long field goal of 41 yards. He earned Honorable Mention All-KCAC honors this past season.

Manny was born October 7, 1985. His parents are Roland and Patricia Miranda. According to published reports, Manny was pinned beneath the wreckage and died at the scene.  While the report indicates that he was wearing his seat belt, the Manny family has confirmed that their son was text messaging on his cell phone and might have been distracted at the time of the accident.

“The Mannys have asked me to address the student body, pleading with them to stop texting while driving,” Glanzer said. “They see this as a way for some meaning to come from Marcus’s death”

In lieu of flowers, the Manny family is requesting donations in Marcus’s name be sent to Dallas Academy, 950 Tiffany Way, Dallas, Texas, 75218 or Tabor College, 400 S. Jefferson, Hillsboro, Kan. 76063.

To see the original article click here to go to Tabor College Website

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

He's waiting for Me

This is a re-post of a Facebook Note my wife posted on Marcus' birthday last year.

When Marcus was about three years old his day care center held a talent show. Marcus wanted to sing something but he didn't know what song. I thought about "Richard Marx's, Right Here Waiting (for you)". We had practiced for a few weeks before it was time to sing in front of the other children and their parents.

On the day of the show, right before we were to go on, he said to me "Mommy, I can't sing in front of all those people!” I told him "Just look at me. Straight into my eyes. Nowhere else. Just look at me as if no one else is there. Just like we did when we were practicing all alone at home.”

We went on stage and the music started, he looked around and tried to sing. He was so scared, he froze. I asked if they would start it over and they did. I took him by the chin and held his tiny face towards mine for a few seconds. Once we started singing to each other it was as if no one else did exist. We were in fact by ourselves. When we finished the song, he was so proud. He did it. He made it through. WE made it through.

Ever since then whenever he would hear that song he would call me and say "Listen, do you hear this?" Sometimes he would be crying just a little and other times I could detect a crack in his voice. I knew he was holding back tears.

Whenever I would hear the song I would call him and sing to him. Most of the time he would listen. Sometimes he would sing with me. But other times, when he was with other people, he would whisper "Don't make me cry right now!”

One day he was in Wal-Mart and the song came on. Of course he called me. Then later he found out there was a sample display that had a snippet of the song on it. Ashley (an ex-girlfriend) said everytime they went to Wal-Mart he would go by the display, press the button and smile.

Restland said I could have it played at his funeral. I sang it to him one last time.

A few months after the funeral Alex went to the dentist. He didn't want to go but he went anyway. While in the waiting room the song came on. Alex got up, left the room, and called me crying. "Mom, they're playing his song!" he said. I told him it was Marcus' way of telling him "Everything is OK.". Alex went back in and everything went OK. (Just a tidbit on Marcus, his dentist and staff. Marcus never went for an appointment, he went for a "visit". He never waited in the waiting room. He always went on back and talked to everyone at every station before it was his turn. Even Dr. Proctor...while he was with a patient!)

"Right Here Waiting" is not a song you hear much any more. So now every time I hear the song I know it's Marcus' way of telling me it's OK. He's waiting for me.

Last month my wife and I got the chance to see Richard Marx perform at the Myerson with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Here is  a video of his performance of "Right Here Waiting"  and a couple of pictures from that night. (If video does not play, click on "facebook" on the upper left corner of the image and it will take you to the video)