Many speak of leadership, yet very seldom do you see someone really step up at a time of need and lead by example.
In hockey, there are plenty of leaders. They usually wear the C or the A on their sweater. There are always others that step up, say something when it is time, or simply do something that can turn the tide, change the momentum.
Sometimes leaders have to do things that are “uncomfortable” to do. They can upset people with decisions, but leaders make those hard decisions. Someone always has to.
On Sept 4th, the day Tracy broke her neck, her sisters, Lynn and Lesley, took charge. Their lives took a significant swerve in the road. They were both being challenged, both emotionally and leadership wise.
They both lead in very different ways. Lesley has an incredible ability to communicate, get on the phone, email, talk and smile, all while having a full-time job and family of her own. She has great energy and spirit.
Lynn too has always been a leader, in good times, and in tough times, stressful times. When the chips have been down in our family, The Pang Family, she rises. She generally clenches her jaw and just gets to work. She is a grinder. She doesn’t take many orders, and has that “charming stubbornness” about her. (I call it charming as it sounds better that way! ) She makes lists, has an incredible grasp on time management and quite simply “gets things done..and then checks them off her list.”
This moment in her life, as a result of this very sad and catastrophic injury to her youngest sister, has been defined. She has really shown her true colours, her leadership ability and character.
These sisters don’t always see eye to eye on how they deal with things. That’s pretty normal as they are both different personalities. Lynn gets right to the point and doesn’t hold back, while Lesley can also get her point across, she can display a softer ability to say the same thing. But in this time of emotion, stress, anxiety and wonder, both Lynn and Lesley have been simply amazing.
Getting back to the early events of the accident to Tracy, Lynn, Sammy and I were pulling up at the front door of our good friends, the Browns, in St Louis, when we received the call from Lesley about Tracy’s accident. Not many details at the time, but they would come, though, as the night developed. We went inside, explained what had happened to Jeanette and her kids. I don’t know exactly what was going through Lynn’s mind, as we were all very numb, but I do know she knew enough to say to me, “Our lives just took a different path” and now, more than 4 months later, Lynn remains in Toronto. She arrived on September 5th and only came back home to pack up the car, put some clothes together, and get our 2 dogs to Toronto in her trusty Toyota Prius.
She has been living at her youngest sister, Tracy’s house, and has been the daily caregiver for Tracy’s 3 sons, aged 7 to 13, as Tracy has sole custody of the boys. Lynn and her Mom Joan, have that house so well-organized and in control, and although there was some adjustment early on for the boys, they know how Lynn works, what she expects and are thriving in their new environment.
Teachers have said to Lynn in Parent-Teacher meetings that ” Whatever you doing with these boys, keep doing it, because they are doing so well.” I know that means a lot to Lynn, and of course, to Tracy.
The boys have been great. I really can’t get over how well they have handled all of this, and we all know that there is a long road ahead for everyone, but it has been impressive. The boys can certainly be a rambunctious trio. As boys will be boys, they can be a handful. But it has been awesome getting to know them, to REALLY know them. I see Lynn with the boys, and she is special. She has really formed a great bond, and on drives to school and back with Christian, they have some really neat banter back and forth. He has been such an awesome kid. He is getting good grades, eats lots of food (and if you know Lynn, she loves to cook) and fun to be around. We recently went skating at UCC and Christian couldn’t get enough! He skated for almost 2 hours, never stopping.
Lynn has everything so well organized, from Thomas activities, school work, reading lots of books, his outdoor hockey, to Malcolm trying out for the school hockey team, and playing in the Lawrence Park Athletic Association outdoor hockey league with his buddy Charlie. I am going to take them to TSN’s studios while I work an NHL game on the Panel, as I did with Christian and his buddies a month ago. Christian just loved it, and couldn’t have been any more respectful!
The boys couldn’t wait to get the Christmas decorations up, and helped getting the boxes in the house, making sure to help Lynn figure out if the lights worked, what usually went where and then off they went, helping out. Christian confirmed that the big tree would look great in front of the window, and gave it a big thumbs up when it was done.
I really enjoy being around the boys, being an Uncle, and try to help Lynn and her Mom. I’m looking forward to Christmas as Tyler and Sammy will be there as well. Our kids have been amazing in this time, and it is so great to see Sammy and Ty show the same qualities and character as their mother in this really difficult time. They are growing up, and showing up, when needed the most.
In the meantime, when I broadcast hockey games, I always look for the players that rise to the occasion, that fight for their space on the ice. The difference makers. It’s not all about the players that get points and media attention. It is about the “glue guys” as much as any. The guys that stick to the fight when they’re hardest hit, that when things get worse, they don’t quit.
They don’t leave town — that’s for sure.
I can’t even begin to describe my thoughts on how proud I am of my wife of 24 years. This has been incredibly stressful on everyone. But in this time of such duress, it is amazing where the strength can come from, how deep you can reach for it and find it, even when you think the well is dry. The entire family reaches down deep every day, and should all be very proud, I know I am of them all.
Enjoy the Holidays, and take nothing for granted. Some moments in life change the path you were on, and when adversity hits, if it does, then your true character will step out…and lead. Just like what Tracy’s entire Family and so many friends have done.
Merry Christmas and Enjoy the moment.