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GROWING UP: REMEMBERING, COMMEMORATING THOSE WHO SERVE IS AN HONOR

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May 30, 2010

JIM GAINAN Growing Up | Posted: Sunday, May 30, 2010 12:00 am

I've missed the deadline, but thanks to some late night thinking and email, my hope is that this column will make its way into the beloved Sunday Edition of The Billings Gazette.  Tonight was the Superbowl for me.  The finale of this year's American Idol was the best ever.  Before I go into that, I have to say that while I watched, sometimes screaming at it, I began to break down the pieces that made the episode so moving.

Like gardening and life, it's the thought and emotion put into action that determines the ability to connect with hearts through attention to detail. It's also relevance to current events and most importantly, surprises.  The performers were incredible, the people were beautiful but beyond all of that, there was a deeper consideration that deserves commendation. It was the careful orchestration and production of the event, the work of people who will never be seen, who are the real stars.  Perfectly placed decisions of who, what and where the performances were to be executed made it magical.

One concept that the producers perfectly executed was to honor the past.  They had the new artists sing the first verse of a song, then with the lights and stage ramped up, they welcomed the original artist to complete the set as a duet.  Can you imagine the thrill that a young paint salesman felt singing the lead for a medley of Chicago songs?  Or, of a single mother singing 'Ironic' with Alanis Morissette?  Once that happens, do you even need to win?

American Idol creates an opportunity to witness lives of the ordinary change in such an extraordinary way is incredible and hope-producing. Over the last 10 years it has been more than fun to witness.

In the garden and life, I just get such a kick out of trying to reach people in a different way, by giving a surprise visit, gift, card or phone call.  Reaching out to those who need it most fills me beyond words.  For me there's always a song and some would say a production.  I use them as a way to connect to memories, as a way to build hope for the future or to get centered when life just starts to get confusing.  American Idol tonight was so meaningful for me because the lyrics and the music took me from my earliest years of life to today. And tonight, if only for a moment, it feels peaceful.

Memorial Day observations began around 1865 and were officially made Federal Law in 1965 to commemorate those who have died in service of our country.  In addition to honoring our troops who have died, Americans have decorated the graves of civilians who have supported our country in other ways.  One of our most important productions in our work year is Memorial Day.  Remembering and honoring those who made sacrifices for me isn't a task, it's an honor.  A group of us delivers flowers to the cemeteries for those who can't. The group that gathers to help us in the wee hours of the morning includes current and former employees, their families and our family members who just 'have to do it'. Some who haven't worked with us for years still show up, particularly if the weather is nice.  At daybreak when the final arrangements are placed, a sense of purpose fills me.  To remember and honor the indelible mark these loved ones have left in our hearts is a beautiful way to start this momentous day.

So wherever I am, at a cemetery or on a mountain top, today I will take the time to honor and give gratitude to those who have protected me and taught me how to navigate my way through this life.  So whether producing a TV show, a garden, a family experience or work environment, I've learned that there is nothing more important than making sure that it can reach people in their hearts so that they too feel inspired to do the same.

Each of us has so much to offer the world.  The gifts and talents we have were given to us to share.  Do something beautiful for someone this Memorial Day weekend.  What would it be like if we turned our good thoughts and real appreciation for people into action everyday? I think I'll give it a try.  Maybe I'll start with baby steps — one day a week?  From the bottom of my heart, have a great long weekend and may God continue to bless America.

Jim Gainan is VP/Shareholder of Gainan's Flower and Garden Center in Billings.

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