OP-ED: THE IDLE AMERICAN – An unexpected visionary gift

Published 6:27 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2020

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Don Newbury

At the time of year when parents, children and teachers were committing to take on a new school year, our son-in-law Bryan Choate and our grandchildren Ben, 19, and Brittin, 16, were dealing with the sudden death of Julie (Mrs. Bryan) Choate.

Bryan’s wife and the children’s mother, she died of a pulmonary embolism at the prime of her professional life as principal of McCall Elementary School in Aledo.

At age 50, she was the oldest of our three daughters, all of whom have degrees in elementary education.

The family has received hundreds of expressions of sympathy, but a letter received recently helped to lessen the sting of her death. It was a “thank you” message from the Texas Donor Registry.

Julie signed up several years ago, and her organ donor wishes were noted on her driver’s license.

More than once, she mentioned her endorsement of this program, thinking they wouldn’t have much use for her eyes.

Bryan was surprised to learn that lenses from Julie’s eyes became successful implants for two fellow Texans who now have restored sight.

Their names are not known.

One is a 48-year-old woman, and the other, a 63-year-old man.

Julie was big on both extending–and claiming–grace. It was at the core of her being.

At Aledo High School’s opening football game against Weatherford, mothers of the team’s trainers handed out pin-on buttons to student trainers with the message trainer Brittin Choate has heard around her house for years:

“Grace Changes Everything.”

In Spain–as well as several other European nations–organ donations are encouraged in a different manner.

It is assumed that deceased persons are participants for the organ donor program UNLESS they choose to “opt out.” Last year, 2,183 participants in Spain allowed harvesting of their organs, thus making possible 5,260 transplants.

Less than 30% of Americans are registered. Even though only about 2% of participants’ deaths result in actual transplants due to multiple factors, we can do better!  We can register when applying for a new or renewal Texas drivers’ license. Here’s a sobering statistic: More than 10,000 Texans are awaiting donors.

Much of life is, of course, dumbfounding. There’s no end to trivia that sets my head spinning in absolute wonderment.

In my “spin-the-bottle” approach to most days, my mind often settles in lowland fog where there are so many opportunities for “I dunno” observations.

Many thoughts center on TV commercials.

Who can forget the little old lady who throws a tire through a Discount Tire store window, taking seriously the invitation to “bring it back” should her affection for DTS go south?

The ad still runs occasionally, having won numerous awards for effectiveness and longevity.

I liked Wendy’s ad featuring the late Clara Peller, who had trouble finding the beef. However, it had a fairly short run.

Wendy’s current ad set me to thinking. It brags that their breakfast items feature “hand-cracked” eggs.

Why, pray tell, is this worth crowing about? It has never occurred to me that how the innards of an egg are extracted makes a whit of difference.

On the rare occasions when we frequent oriental restaurants–where the chef prepares meals mere inches from our drooling lips–his/her mastery of eggshell demolition via spinning, spatula-tossing and cracking with the spatula involves “zero” hand-cracking. So what?

They’re rolling out some “virtual state fair” stuff–mostly food favorites–for folks who are weary of COVID-19 shutdowns.  There are a few drive-through food stands, and for state fair enthusiasts who yearn for a “real” Ferris Wheel, there’s a-mortar eatery that features a “real” Ferris Wheel.  It’s called Ferris Wheelers Backyard and BBQ.

Visitors may have professional photographs made with Big Tex, the heralded “hello guy” at the fair entrance.

State Fair moguls project THE BEST-EVER production in 2021, but are asking for grace this year. Julie Choate would have granted it without batting an eye.


Dr. Newbury is a long-time public speaker and university president who writes weekly.  Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Facebook: Don Newbury. Twitter: @donnewbury.