I learned many years ago from a group of friends who shall remain nameless that similarities rather than differences are more important in the grand scheme of things, especially when judging other people.
Sometimes, though, it’s easy for me to get off track, especially when I get judgmental with my grandson, Rakeem.
But the recent passing of former NHL and Minnesota North Star great J.P. Parise put me back on track.
You see, when I was in high school, “Jeep” was one of the hockey players on a fledgling North Stars team who made an impression on me. I spent hours upon hours in my basement bedroom listening to North Star games on WCCO (fading out at times) on an old radio my parents gave to me.
Parise’s relentlessness against bigger and stronger opponents taught me that if you work hard good things will come. Later in life, Parise the coach and teacher, had an amazingly positive effect career-wise and lifewise on scores of young hockey players from Bloomington to Faribault, Minn., (home of Shattuck St. Mary’s). Among them: Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Black Hawks, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and J.P.’s two sons, Zach of the Minnesota Wild, and Jordan, a former UND goaltender. And his good-natured and happy attitude was contagious and made him fun to be around, according to former players and teammates, a testimony to Parise’s priorities in life.
When thinking about those cold winter nights in 1967-69, I realized my grandson is a lot like me. He, too, is a big hockey fan (as well as an above-average player). He often watches NHL games on television and probably counts Parise’s son, Zach, as a favorite.
But the similarities don’t end there. Rakeem, a sophomore in high school, loves sports, is an excellent student and has a lot of good friends, just like me.
He also has had his share of adventures, some good, some not so good, in his teen years. Ditto for me at his age.
And that got me to thinking about the times I’ve rushed to judgment when Rak has found himself in a little jam.
But thanks to J.P. Parise, hopefully the only rushing I’ll be doing is over to Purpur Arena to watch Rakeem and his Grand Forks Central Knights teammates in action.
Chalk up another lesson from “Jeep.”