Happy Birthday, Ben

Blog 2450 – 07.10.2022

Happy Birthday, Ben

Some of the writing than I enjoy doing most is tributes, where I get to focus on the highest and best that I see in others. Forty-three years ago I met a quiet little tow-headed boy that his mother had named simply Ben, no middle name. He had early on been nick named “the blond bomber.”

Ben won my heart even before his mother and older brother did. I met Ben, his brother, and mother through the bus ministry program of a church in an area of Houston, Texas called Spring Branch. There were many large apartments complexes in that part of town and the church had several Bible College students attending because of a particular Bible College in another part of town, so the wise pastor of that church enlisted those college students to start a bus ministry. At one point the church owned over ten school buses and leased even more to bring hundreds of children to Sunday School and Church every Sunday morning. Ben was one of those children and David his older brother worked with one of the bus captains to sign up other kids to ride the church bus, getting their parents or guardian’s permission, of course.

Ben wanted to get to come to Church on Sunday and Wednesday evenings as well, but his mom did not drive and so I volunteered to pick Ben up and drop him off at home after church. Ben’s mom often was battling her own demons and did not make it to church much of the time so Ben and I were mostly on our own, his older brother came earlier with his bus captain and was grateful not to have to look after his little brother on those occasions.

Ben grew into a fine young man and I have tried to stay in touch with him over the years. Today is his birthday and I salute him. I wanted very much to be a hero for Ben, but the opposite turned out to be far more true. Long time PBS children’s show host Fred Rogers had a little plaque in his fantasy land puppet set that read “143” and he tried to maintain a body weight of 143 pounds to remind him of the message he wanted to portray to children of all ages around the world – “I love you.”

For a while I had the goal, one I have still yet to attain and stay at, of weighing 173 pounds. I tried to think of a three word phrase to help me make and maintain that goal, one that would also convey a nice message to others. What I came up with is, “I admire you.”

Whether I ever reach that weight goal, or maintain it if I do, I want you to know, Ben, on your birthday, that I admire you. And anyone reading this that goes for you too. I am sure if I had the chance to meet and get to know you that I would quickly discover the hero in you too for that is what is in all of us, for that is Who and Whose we truly are.

Your friend and fellow traveler,

Saluting Ben and each of you on his birthday,

David White


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