Sitting here watching coverage of Whitney Houston's funeral is evoking both tears and joy.
Tears because funerals by their nature are a sad occasion. Most of us may have no close personal connection to Ms. Houston but we can all identify with losing someone close.
Yet as I sit here watching the service, I was reminded of my own personal Whitney moment that had me laughing.
Many years ago, the International Special Olympics came to my hometown in Indiana. Ms. Houston was at the top of her game and was the headliner for the opening ceremonies.
Naturally everyone wanted to be a part of excitement to get a glimpse of Ms. Houston.
I decided to try out for the drill team that was to also be a part of the opening ceremonies. While I was chosen (and who wasn't?), I discovered two important things about being a part of a major entertainment production.
1. You will be worked---hard---for very long hours in challenging conditions with a sack lunch as your reward.
2. The normal people don't get to even get remotely close to the stars.
While I went to practice everyday in the hot sun the notion of meeting Ms. Houston diminished. Hell, it was completely extinguished. But a commitment is a commitment so I soldiered on.
In the meantime I noticed that people would come up to me and speak loudly and slowly for no apparent reason. It was a head scratcher as these were people I had known all of my life.
I had no idea what was going on--until I overheard my late mother talking on the phone.
"...Yeah Woody is going to be in the Special Olympics."
When my mother got off the of the phone I asked her if she had been telling everyone that I was going to be IN the Special Olympics. She said "yes."
I sighed heavily.
"Mom, it is possible to mention that I'm on the DRILL team for the Special Olympics. Not actually IN the Special Olympics. People are taking very loud and very slow to me and it's annoying. I guess they think I'm very high functioning."
The takeaway---precise language does count.
I never did get to meet or even see Ms. Houston during the open ceremony but the memory of my mother's gaffe makes me laugh every time I recall the story.