Saturday, June 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Tommy Kono

The following is word-for-word of a July 5, 2007 I wrote to American Olympic weightlifting legend Tommy Kono:

"Dear Mr. Kono:
I am the son of the Ed Pierini who you knew about 50 years ago when you lived in Sacramento, California. My Dad is 80 years old and will soon be celebrating his 81st birthday on August 14th.
I grew up listening to my Dad tell me many stories about his days at the YMCA and his days knowing and training with you. And to this day I still get new stories about his pleasant memories of your friendship. For example, last night he was over my house for dinner and he told me about the story of when you went over to Russia in response to a challenge to compete against one of their star lifters in your weight division. And I heard the story, more than once, about how you would go to the local high school and challenge the high school coach's best sprinters to a race, except up a flight of stairs. I never get tired hearing these stories. I feel like I personally know you even though we are a generation apart and have never met. My Dad told me that you came over to our home on S Street for a Mexican dinner before departing for Hawaii.

Well anyway, the purpose of my letter is to make a simple request. Would you be willing to call my Dad on his 81st birthday and wish him a happy birthday, maybe take a few minutes for a conversation down memory lane? I would be more than happy to compensate you for your time and the telephone charges. I would like to see the look on his face as this conversation takes place. If you would be willing to do this but August 14th would not fit your schedule, then any other date would also be fine.

My Dad is a full-time caregiver for my fully-disabled sister and he lives a very demanding life with this duty. He thanks his many years of weightlifting as giving him the strength to continue to this day with this demanding task. I know his years of life are limited and to give him a joy that he will cherish for his remaining years would be one of the greatest gifts a son could give his Dad.

I hope you will consider my request. Please feel free to call or write me if you can accommodate my request. I will reimburse you for any telephone charges you incur. Thank you!

What emerged from this simple letter has been an amazing friendship that grows by the day. Mr. Kono stayed as a guest in my home during an August 2007 visit to Sacramento. It was a wonderful experience to witness the look on my Dad’s face when he reunited with his old friend. We kept the reunion a top secret until it occurred.

My Dad and I also had the opportunity to visit with Mr. Kono during his August 2008 trip and actually attended my Dad’s 82nd birthday party at my home.

Mr. Kono is coming to Sacramento again in August and I will again have the opportunity to spend time with him and benefit from his geniune friendship and sage counsel.

Today is his 79th birthday and I wish my friend good faith, fitness, fortune and health. I’ll call him today to say “Happy Birthday Mr. Tommy Kono”.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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