While some knew him as Jonah and others as Mac, we all loved and respected him. And we miss him dearly.

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To purchase our magnificent recording, "So Is Life," visit jonahmac.org/cd.

The Jonah Maccabee Foundation, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. Gifts are deductible to the full extent allowable under IRS regulations. Our Federal tax ID # is 45-1736178.

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Responding to Adversity with Our Very Best

I was interested in listening to the score of that new musical about the airplanes that got diverted to Gander, in Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001. Because I entered the wrong name for the show, Google pointed me to a Twyla Tharp musical about Frank Sinatra. And although Ol’ Blue Eyes had indeed spent some time in Gander, I was looking for something else.

Finally, I found it. The musical’s name is “Come From Away” and just listening to snippets of its songs on iTunes sent tears rolling down my face. Having now purchased the entire recording and been listening to it for two days, I think my eyelids are chapped from all the crying.

“Come From Away” is not a sad story even though it emerges from the devastating events of 9/11. It’s a side-bar tale of 7000 passengers on 38 international flights that were diverted to this little Canadian town of only 10,000 residents when the U.S. closed its airspace. The musical revels in the storm of kindness unleashed by the townsfolk during those three days when their population nearly doubled. Picketing bus drivers got back behind the wheels of their buses as bakeries, restaurants, stores, medical personnel, therapists, and virtually everyone else in town did whatever they could to help the stranded while they waited to go home. Even two great apes had to be tended to!

Go see the show if you can. But if you’re at all like me, you can just download the cast recording and disappear into a marvelous saga of humanity at its very best. Keep your tissues handy!

A side-note to this side-bar tale: One plane, as it left Gander to return home, took up a collection and raised $15,000 which they donated to the children of Gander as college scholarships. The “Lewisporte Area Flight 15 Scholarship” is now worth over two million dollars and continues to return the favor in gratitude for the countless kindnesses showered on them during those three days in 2001.

The Jonah Maccabee Foundation also emerged as an act of gratitude; in our case, for the great goodnesses which my son Jonah brought into my and so many others’ lives. Also begun on the heels of a devastating event — Jonah’s death in 2009 — our ongoing work is to return the favor as well, offering our thanks for the 19 years we got to share the world with this remarkable young man.

On September 11, 2001, thirty-eight planeloads of those who were not harmed that day moved from frustration and anger at the great inconveniences of their diverted flight, to gratitude and love at the majestic benevolence they received.

I try to live my life with an awareness of how much majestic benevolence I too am receiving each day. Losing Jonah has been the worst of it. Having Jonah was among the best. I will not allow one to blot out the other. Even in death, I try to be the father I always wanted him to see. So while yes, I still cry plenty of tears because I miss him so, I smile at sillinesses remembered and, most importantly, I live ever grateful for how lucky I was, and am, for having had that boy in my life.

Through The Jonah Maccabee Foundation, I offer my thanks for the Gander-like days of human goodness and love that have been mine, returning the favor to as many and for as long as I can.

If you’d like to join me, I hope you’ll stop by jonahmac.org/donate and say thanks for the abundance of human goodness and love in your own life.

Billy

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