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I have a confession. Although you've been involved with Make-A-Wish for decades and told me countless wish stories, I've never been moved to tears. Until this weekend.


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Why? It is not like you were at Tommy Austin's 80th birthday celebration on Saturday. Almost none of the speakers could get through their comments without crying. As you know, there would be no Make-A-Wish without Tommy, as it all started back in 1980 with him wanting to do something special for Chris Greicius, a 7-year-old boy who was battling leukemia and wanted to be a police officer.


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Those are the facts, yes. But when you invited Sawyer to join you, and emailed us the link to the story that inspired Make-A-Wish video, it sat in my inbox until Saturday afternoon. I was clearing emails and found it, and thought it was a good time to watch it, especially since I knew you were at the party. And that's when the facts of Make-A-Wish became something so much more.


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You may have been watching it at the same time we were, as they used it to open the tribute to Tommy. I have known him for decades, so am very familiar with the story, but it is a powerful reminder of how people came together to grant a young boy his wish, and how that single wish touched so many lives.


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Yes, the ripple effect it created was truly amazing, as it led to the creation of The Make-A-Wish Foundation. But what brought me to tears, and made me go through more tissues than I'd care to admit, were the words of Chris's mother, "This was something I was totally helpless to do" but that Tom was able to pull it off with help from others.


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I cannot imagine the helplessness a parent must feel when their child has a serious illness.


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Trust me, hearing those words made my heart hurt. But I smiled when one of the other founders explained that after Chris had passed, with his wish having been fulfilled beyond his wildest dreams, that everyone involved looked at each other and said, "There are more children out there; let's go find them" and how it snowballed from there. It made me want to cheer and shout, "Yes!"


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"Snowballed" is an understatement. Now, 41 years later, Make-A-Wish has made such a huge difference … granting more than 500,000 wishes, with chapters around the world … and bringing hope and joy to the wish kids and their families.


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I can't begin to imagine how proud Tommy Austin must be to know that his simple desire to make one boy a little happier would lead to so much more.


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The word I would use is "humble," as Tommy believes he is merely the messenger and refuses to take any credit, explaining he was only trying to make Chris' life better. But, there was a room full of people who saw it differently, and told heartwarming stories about Tommy.


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It sounds like it was the best 80th birthday party ever, and he certainly deserved it.


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It was so much more. And, we surprised him by announcing that in honor of his 80th birthday, The Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast & Louisiana had created a "Circle of 80" to kick-off the Tommy Austin Wish Fund.


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That's so perfect. Although I've never met him, from watching the video I think that the best gift one could give Tommy would be to help grant the wish of a Make-A-Wish child. For that matter, it may be one of the greatest gifts any one of us could give …

Whether it's becoming involved with a local Make-A-Wish chapter or simply by making a donation … never underestimate the power of a wish!

Photo by chatiyanon on iStock

It seems the pandemic has resulted in people “recycling” relationships from their past, and I have already admitted to doing that and then being “ghosted” (the relationship was doomed the first go-round and trying to resurrect it reminded me of why). Although on the surface it may seem rude, there are a few “legitimate” reasons for ghosting, some less obvious than others.

Looking back to decades of dating, a handful of engagements, and two failed marriages, I realized none of them started as friendships. I will also admit that very few started with sparks of passion (I know those fizzle out), but all were analyzed in terms of compatibility. Too bad I was not aware of research indicating the majority of romantic relationships begin as long-term friendships.

This story began as an impromptu business meeting when I asked to speak to the manager of a food franchise I frequented, thinking there might be an opportunity to create a joint marketing opportunity with Red & Black. There was no way to know the attractive man sitting toward the back of the store, who I noticed when I first walked in, would be the district manager.

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RED+BLACK - A Floor Filing System?

Overwhelmed by piles of paper? Well, if you’re like Red, longing for a perfectly clean desk, you might use filing cabinets or, at least, neatly stacked file folders. But a filing system that uses the floor of your workroom? And what happens when you run out of floor space?!

Curious about the “Back Story” to our animation teasers? Red’s daughter, Sawyer, told us we needed to do some very short animated “teasers” … so Black said, “Great. You want to work in video production. Take the final working versions of our animation and start creating them!” So, she did!

P.S. – For those of you who've met us or seen us at speaking engagements, we'd love to know if you think the animators have accurately captured us! (You can email us at Banter@RedandBlackBooks.com.)

Our thoughts about Friday the 13th have not changed (not in years, maybe decades), so we have no problem re-running this question from August 13, 2021. But it did pique Black’s curiosity about how often Friday the 13th occurs, and although this answer is from a source we’ve used before, she found this analysis fascinating. Meanwhile, Red just rolled her eyes as she’s always felt like Friday the 13th should only happen in October because it reminds her of superstitions and “spooky” things.


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I know you're not talking about the incredibly popular Friday the 13th horror movies , which, for the record, I'm not a fan of. Not because they scare me or I dislike all the blood and gore, I'm just "old school" and prefer the classic horror movies like Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein. Although Mel Brook's "Young Frankenstein" is a hilarious "classic" and one of my all-time favorite movies.

But I digress. I'm not superstitious, so I don't believe Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. Interestingly, our grandmother thought that the number 13 was very lucky, so Friday the 13th was a particularly good day for her. What I will say is that I've always been interested in parapsychology (keep in mind that I'm "older", so this was before all the TV shows about ghost sightings that now pose as "reality TV"), although I feel that I should draw a distinction between the scientific study of paranormal activity and a belief in superstitions.


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Actually, there is science and logic related to superstitions, and I can see how superstitions can give people a feeling of being in control, which in turn helps them cope with anxiety and uncertainty. Obviously, it is a function of whether you believe something good will happen or something bad, and ultimately it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Friday the 13th is a good example, as whether you think it is unlucky or lucky, you will look for "supporting evidence." (I find it neither, but was intrigued by how many times it happens each year and other interesting facts .)

That does not mean I do not believe in other superstitions, but I do not try to defend them. Sometimes it is a nice break from being pragmatic, and I figure there is little to lose and maybe something to gain. And I am not alone when it comes to superstitions – there are superstitious athletes, like Michael Jordan, who wore his North Carolina practice shorts under his NBA uniform for good luck, and even superstitious scientists.