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Archive for August 2008

He knew it right after the birthday song

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I sang for my brother Bob’s 50th birthday last month, a moment of tears and joy. My wife leaned over to me and said, “Out of everybody in this room, you have known him the longest.” A happy, proud moment indeed.

I thought of that moment with Bob once again today, while I listened to a podcast about The Last Lecture. The lecture performance by Randy Pausch, the professor dying of cancer, was immortalized by Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow. Zaslow wrote the column the day after the lecture, and within 24 hours, by way of ABC.com, a million people had looked at the WSJ video of the lecure. A book followed, and the lecture has become viral in its Internet penetration (head to thelastlecture.com to get started). Here’s the lecture in its fullness if you haven’t caught the wave yet — entitled Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.

The Last Lecture Video

Zaslow talked with Tara Parker-Pope of the NY Times about the book that resulted from that column, the book Zaslow co-wrote with Randy as the professor was dying. Parker-Pope asked Zaslow in her blog Well how soon he knew that what he’d seen and written about was so special.

Right away, Zaslow said. He’d driven 300 miles to see the lecture, since his WSJ editors were a little leery of the $850 airline ticket the writer would’ve had to purchase. There were 400 people in the lecture hall at Carnegie Mellon, and “all of us had a feeling we were seeing something astonishing.” Randy delivered on the lecture on his wife’s birthday, and made it up to her in a grand gesture.

There’s the moment when he brings out the cake for his wife, for their last birthday together, and he asks us all to sing to her. I’ve never had an emotional Happy Birthday sung to equal that. And I think everyone in the room would agree.

Emotion rings in lots of songs delivered to people we love. It took Bob and I 50 years together to get that moment of my own tears. “And many happy returns of the day,” is the old saying attached to birthdays, a message that wishes for many more. I wish this for my brother and others I love so long.

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Written by ronseybold

August 4, 2008 at 9:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized