CHRISTMAS IN FLORIDA: The Mom, The Movie and The Man

There is 90 minutes left on this Christmas Day and I’m thinking a lot about fate.

Yesterday, as some of you may have read, I found myself behind the car of a family who had lost their son to cancer five years ago. (If you didn’t read it, you can click here to read it before continuing).

As fate would I have it, I have a colleague I worked with in Connecticut for a short time who just happened to move to Florida to write for the Navarre Press, the hometown paper of Ian Cole Lockwood, the young man I wrote about in yesterday’s blog post.

She asked permission to pass along the blog item to the boy’s mom. The mom in turn asked permission to reach out to me to personally thank me for writing such a tribute to her son.

Here I was just driving up a road when I noticed something, followed my inner sixth sense, looked into it, wrote about it and now I’ve made a mother’s Christmas because I wrote about her son; a young man I never met, yet whose short life touched me in some way.

I also learned why they were in Clearwater, rather than up north at home.

They had been sky-diving in the Florida Keys, during which they spread some of Ian’s ashes to fulfill a bucket list of his wishes that he never got to complete. After that they were traveling to Clearwater to visit Ian’s 93-year-old great-grandmother for the holiday.

Her words were the greatest Christmas present I could have received.

That alone has made this trip to Christmas in Florida entirely worth it for me on a personal level.

I will never forget Ian, or the Lockwood family, and this little connection fate has given us on such a special Christmas Day.

• • •

With the bowl game in a down-mode on Christmas Day and no media access to the teams, I decided to hit the movies and went and saw “Spotlight.”

In case you haven’t seen it, it’s a movie about journalism. Yeah, that’s me. When I’m on vacation I go to sporting events and when I want a couple of hours down time I pick a movie about journalism instead of “Creed”, or “Sisters” or “Stars Wars – The Next Generation” or whatever it’s called.

The movie was definitely a two-thumbs up movie, but what struck me as amazing was to see real journalism in the final days of its hey-day. Reporters did research, sure, but they also had a team of people who helped them.

There is a scene in the movie where a reporter needs something and goes into the newspaper’s morgue (which is basically the library of past clips and information) and asks for it.

Then it all gets delivered to him.

Point being, it freed him up from hours and hours of research to continue digging for the story through the people and not the clips.

Many times in this space I’ve wrote about the woes of journalism and this movie certainly brought up a lot of those feelings.

But it was great to see reporters going house to house, knocking on doors, barging into offices to get the story and get it right.

• • •

After the movie I hit up a local CVS to buy a comb. That turned into a few other things that the TSA wouldn’t allow me to take on a flight, as well.

As I was walking into the store, a man was sitting outside the store, using one of the columns in front of the store to hide from the sun and the heat.

He was rather unkempt — hair too long, beard too long, both too scraggly.

I expected him to say something as I walked in, but he didn’t.

He was wise to the game.

On the way out, he got me.

“Spare some change?” he asked.

I had paid with an ATM card, but reached into pocket and pulled out $22 in cash.

No, I didn’t give him the whole thing. But I did slip him the $2, which he truly appreciated, and even shook my hand blessed me.

Sure, maybe it went for a bottle of beer. Or maybe it was the final two bucks he needed to get his fix as he walked off behind the store, to head to his next destination.

Or, maybe, just maybe, he had gotten enough to buy a sandwich, or put something solid in his belly.

It’s Christmas night. There’s one hour left.

That’s the story I’m going with in my head.

Merry Christmas, loved ones.

Twelve hours to kick-off.


One comment on “CHRISTMAS IN FLORIDA: The Mom, The Movie and The Man

  1. "Irish Bill" Hammel says:

    John, thank you for the beautiful article that you wrote on Ian Lockwood. As the broadcaster for Navarre Raider football I got to experience this first hand. Ian was an awesome young man and he always had on his game face on; whether on or off the field. He lifted up a whole community; not only Navarre, but the Panhandle of Florida. He had a never give up attitude and lived by the Nike motto, Live for Today, Fight for Tomorrow, Live Strong. #10, you will always be in our memory. Thanks again John for your article!

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