By Rich Coutinho
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In South Florida on Friday night, a poignant and emotional memorial service was held for Hall Of Famer Gary Carter. The people who showed up ranged from his former teammates to people he touched even briefly. Clearly, this was a man who immersed himself into living life to the fullest and proved it every single day of his life.
We all know about Carter the player, but quite frankly Gary Carter the man is the Carter we should emulate. I will give you one personal experience. In 2006, Carter appeared at a 20th anniversary celebration of the 1986 Mets. That very week, I found out my Dad would enter a battle with lung cancer that had sent our family reeling. It launched five years of chemotherapy and surgeries and to this day, I will never forget what Gary Carter said to me when we had a chat that night at Shea Stadium.
“You have to be strong for your Dad but remember things may not turn out the way you want it, but they will turn out the way God wants it.” Those words resonated for me to this day and quite honestly, we never spoke about it again. But those words inspired me to never waver in my strength to care for my Dad and five years later, he is now in remission after years of surgery.
Think about this for a moment — Gary Carter barely knew me as I was just a reporter — just another face in the crowd. But that did not matter to him — he sensed need and he made the time. And during this memorial service, they were literally hundreds of people who were inspired by Gary Carter. I can safely say that this is the essence of Gary Carter. He helped people because it was in his soul — not because the cameras were rolling. I can not tell you how many times I saw him sign autographs for young kids, but he did not just sign and walk away. He wanted to know their names and thank them for being Mets fans.
Well, now it is time to thank you — Gary Carter. Not for the hit that got “that inning” started. Not for the Opening Day 1985 Game Winning Homer. Not for the two homers in Game 4 of The World Series. We thank you for being Gary Carter and leaving the legacy that helping is a responsibility we should not take lightly. Helping is why we are here. We sometimes get lost in petty jealousies and measuring what others have in relation to what we don’t possess. Gary Carter never did that and on that day in 2006, he taught me a lesson that would forever change my way of thinking about life.
I will never be able to thank him for it so I can only do the same for others. I really believe that is what he would have us all do. That is the legacy of Gary Carter.