Gut Shot

Marcus Engel

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It was hot. Not normal sort of hot, but drenched-in-sweat/hurts-to-breathe/why-on-earth-do-I-live-in-this-part-of-the-country-sort of hot. A late night on the town had provided me with less than adequate sleep, only to have my rest broken by a radio alarm clock announcing the hottest temperatures of the year. As if that wasn’t bad enough, throw in a two hour drive to a family reunion where I’d know only a handful of people. Was I excited? Ready and raring to go? I’ll let you be the judge.

After walking into the reunion, a cousin offered me a chair next to my great uncle, Rubin, an 81 year old retired farmer who I saw once every few years. I sat down on an uncomfortable metal folding chair and, for the next five hours, proceeded to have one of the most enjoyable times in recent memory. A pleasant surprise? Again, I’ll let you be the judge.

For hours, Rubin shared tales of growing up during the Depression with his siblings, all of whom were present except those who are deceased and, somehow, I think they were probably there, too. Rubin gave me a crash course in how his father made homemade wine, recounted stories of his travels around the country and had me in hysterics with a multitude of one-liners.

“You know, Marcus, I was deer hunting last year with these two girls, " he said, not bothering to explain that “girl" means any female who is not yet drawing Social Security. “After we shot at a couple of deer, one of the girls walked down the valley to see what we’d hit. She came back a few minutes later and said, ‘Well, Rubin, my deer was a clean shot, but yours was hit through the stomach!’

I told her, “I never, never shoot a deer in the gut! You’ve got the two mixed up!’

Now, Marcus, I knew darned good and well which one I’d hit, but I wasn’t going to admit I’d missed my target! Heck, I’m 81! What does she expect? An ace marksman?"

With a flash of a smile and a twinkle in his eye, he launched into his next story. I barely had time to catch my breath between laughs!

As the day wore on, more stories surfaced. Rubin enthralled me with tales of my great grandfather and his brother who died as a teenager. Cheerful memories spilled out as he reflected on growing up in the bottomlands of the Missouri River.

Rubin’s voice softened as he thought back on the day when he learned a neighbor’s son had been killed in Vietnam. “He just had one more week in his tour of duty, then we would have had him home. Just 20 years old and he died halfway around the world, away from everything he knew. " Rubin’s chin fell to the bibs of his overalls and I could almost see his look of loss. This heartbreaking tale showed the depths of Rubin’s true compassion.

As the afternoon drew to a close, I found myself regretting my absence from this man’s presence. However, the past is in the past. I’m just glad I had the chance to become friends with this man, a relative who I’ve never really known. I left the reunion promising myself to never again let those friends on the fringes of life fall completely out of touch.

Yet, how often do we make this sort of a promise? How many times do we part from another’s company swearing we’ll stay in touch? If you’re anything like me, you’ve done this before; and many times you’ve failed to keep that vow.

We get caught up in our own lives, our own concerns and our own daily activities, always thinking that we’ll make the call, send the E mail, write the letter some day…but does that “someday" ever come? Unfortunately, it often does not.

Think of someone you care about and with whom you’ve lost contact. My challenge for you is to bridge that relationship. I was privileged to hear a speaker who delivered a simple, memorable message: “Hey, at the end of my life, if there are some people I love and some people who love me, I’ll die a rich man. "

The only way to assure we can all die “rich" is to make the time, take the first step and re-establish that contact. Will you do it? Here…I’ll make it easy for you!

Open up your E mail address book. Locate a name and ask yourself one question: Can I list one significant thing that has happened in this person’s life in the past six months? If you cannot, drop ‘em a note! How big is the smile on your face when an old friend’s name pops up in your in box? More importantly, how big will your friend’s smile be when they see your name? Make good on those promises to stay in touch…don’t wait for the next reunion!

-Special Thanks!-

A special thanks goes out to all who have sent compliments and accolades on The Marcus Engel Newsletter over the past several months. You have my undying gratitude for helping me to see that what I’m doing is making a difference, as well as for sharing the message by forwarding it along to others. The overwhelming response has been humbling and has, in turn, motivated me. Thank you!

Marcus Engel is a professional speaker/author who inspires audiences to achieve success by making intelligent choices. Blinded by a drunk driver at age 18, Marcus battled through two years of recovery and 300 hours of reconstructive facial surgery to reach his goal of returning to college. After graduating from Missouri State University in 2000, Marcus began sharing his story professionally to audiences nationwide. In 2002, Marcus founded his own publishing company with the release of his autobiography, “After This…An Inspirational Journey For All the Wrong Reasons. " His messages of empowerment and motivation have been witnessed by hundreds of thousands through his keynotes, his autobiography and his monthly newsletters. Marcus Engel is a speaker, a message, a story you will never forget! Visit for more information!


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