March 1, 2024

I lost two friends within a twenty four hour period on January 20 and 21, 2024. On the surface you would not think that they had much in common.  One was 78 years old and the other was almost 88. One was born in Texas and the other moved to Texas to start a business.  Both had humble beginnings and worked hard chasing lots of dreams.  One sold his business for over two billion dollars.  The other sold his pickup truck.  One owned multiple businesses and over 11,000 acres of ranch land, the other worked cattle and chased wild game on thousands of acres that someone else owned. For whatever reason, I was blessed to call both men “friend.”

These two good men were different and unique but at the same time had a lot of things in common.  They both created memories with me and with our families.  Both were known and respected for their values and principles.  Both were fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers.  Both understood the importance of touching the lives of others.  One created endowments and foundations and the other tipped his cowboy hat out of respect and created memories for others on the back of a horse or chasing wild animals.  Amazingly, both men were featured in books about Texas ranches; one as the owner, the other as a cowboy!  They each even co-authored books about their lives!  Both understood the importance of the “dash” on one’s tombstone between the date of birth and the date of death.  They understood that it is up to each of us to create our life story between the two dates on our tombstone.

The following is an excerpt from the poem “The Dash” written by Linda Ellis:

For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard;
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

 It amazes me how both of my friends touched the lives of thousands of people over their lives with vastly different resources.  I pray that I have learned from these two friends as I fill in my very own dash.  “Vaya con dios!”

Written by KING AEROSPACE Founder, Jerry Allan King-Echevarria.