Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mattie Stepanek

Oprah describes Mattie Stepanek as one of the brightest lights to ever grace her stage and the planet.  Poet, Mattie Stepanek, appeared on the Oprah show numerous times before his passing in 2004 from a rare form of muscular dystrophy.  It is impossible for me to watch a show about him without going through a box of Kleenex.  Oprah interviewed his mother Jeni on one of her favorite guests of all times shows.   Jeni has written a book about her life with Mattie called Messenger: The Legacy of Mattie Stepanek.  Jeni also suffers from muscular dystrophy and has buried all four of her children who died from the disease.  She said Mattie's spirit continues to inspire her every day.  She shared the story of how Mattie learned of Oprah.  The story brings me to tears just retelling it.  They were going into a thrift store and Jeni spied a nickle on the ground.  She told Mattie it must be his lucky day and Mattie said that means someone else is unlucky because they lost their money.  He was six years old at the time and insisted they give the nickle to the store manager because someone would be looking for it.  The manager sort of laughed and questioned what you could buy with a nickle.  Mattie's response was a gift.  The manager told him to keep it and find a gift.  He loved books and discovered one about a girl who went from rags to riches, Oprah Winfrey, and inside the cover it was marked 5 cents.  He didn't know who Oprah was, but the book caught his attention.  He read the book on the way home from the store. Later he told his mother that God put it into his heart that he and Oprah were to be together for a few years and are part of each others reason for being.  Oprah received an email from Mattie that she shares in June's O magazine.  He advised her to continue her show for 5 more years when she was thinking of quitting at her 20th season.  Thank you for sharing that advice Mattie.

Some people would have walked right past that nickle and not given it a second thought.  Mattie saw the gift in it.  I remember when I was little either my grandparents or parents would point out a penny on the ground.  Pennies were considered lucky.  I used to point them out to my kids as well, but most of the time my son would find them before me.  I need to spend more time pointing out the gifts in life.  Things in nature like a beautiful sunset, birds or funny shaped clouds.  Mattie endured a lot of hardships, but he was a positive and uplifting person. His life was short, but his messages are powerful and will live on forever.

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