by Kim Turnage

In the summer of 1979, Ray Myers taught me, a short, knobby-kneed 10-year-old, how to high jump. As a 5’4” senior, I jumped over a 5’10” bar to become the girls’ state high jump champion in Texas. This Spring, over 30 years later, I found myself writing this tribute to Ray:

My first coach and one of my earliest mentors died this weekend. He taught me how to high jump and hurdle and more importantly he taught me how to be a competitor and a hard worker who never gives up. He said dynamite comes in small packages and because of him I never feel small. He even taught me how to let go of a father who didn’t want to be in my life…because I had a dad who did. I thanked Ray for his impact in my life several years ago, and today I’m reminded that another chance to say those things is never guaranteed.

Ray didn’t get to read those words. They were for his son, Casey, and for the other friends I still have from those days who also benefitted from Ray’s practical and plentiful kind of love.

I wrote an acknowledgement to Ray in a book I co-authored that released on May 1 of this year. But he died on April 15. He never saw the signed copy of that book with the inscription I meant to write to him. I won’t get another chance to tell him how, even after so many decades, he is still a touchstone in my life.

Don’t wait for a special occasion to express your gratitude.

Who are the Rays in your life? Who do you need to call or write or email or at least text today to say:

Thank you. Here’s how you made a difference in my life. Here’s how I’m a better, stronger person because of you.

Don’t wait another day. Do it today!

It will be one of the best gifts that person will ever receive. And it will be one of the best gifts you can give to yourself too.