The World’s Strongest Man
Over the years there have been many to claim such a title. A title so great many had thought it could only be given to a God. But this man, this human man, is so incredible that you may not even believe his super powers. This is the story of the worlds strongest man.
There has been many titles that this man has carried, many knew him simply as Steve. Born in the fifties, he grew up like many children, playing with friends, watching baseball, basketball, and football. A tall slender kid, he was never much of an athlete. His father, who was very mechanically inclined, would often go racing at the local auto track. Steve learned automobiles and mechanics from his time spent with his dad at the track. Growing up in the sixties and seventies he naturally had a taste in music. A very talented bass player, he quickly joined a band in high school. He worked various jobs throughout the years, but kept one thing through it all, his music.
Steve continued this lifestyle for many years, until one day, he met the most beautiful woman. He had never met such a lady who had similar interests, laid back, and so easy to talk to. They talked all night at the bar where they just met at. Laughing and telling stories to each other, finally the night was coming to an end. “Well it’s time for me and my friends to leave now, maybe I’ll see you around” she said. Steve was astonished by how quickly the night had ended, and without being able to find any words, she smiled and walked away. Crap! he thought to himself, he did not even catch her name.
Nights, weeks, and months go by and still kicking himself for not even knowing her name. Not thinking that he would ever get a chance to meet her again, Steve goes back to rocking out with his band on the weekends. One night playing at the local Eagles club, while on stage in the middle of the set, his eye catches that distinct beauty which put a spell on him months before. It was her, sitting with a few of her girlfriends. Playing like no other, the bands set comes to end, he tells the guys “lets take a break”. He gets off stage and walks over to find her smiling ear to ear and says hello. Without hesitation she says, “Hey you guys are rocking tonight”, He replies “yeah, thanks. I’m glad you girls came out tonight, are you sticking around for a while?”. She looks at her friends and replies “yeah we might be here for a little bit”. “Alright cool, looks like we have to get back on stage. By the way I didn’t catch your name when we last hung out.” Steve says. She smiles and says “My name is Liddy.”
Years go by, they get married and have three children. All boys, three years apart from each other. Now Steve had continued working various jobs, and still playing music all these years. Many bands along the way, some incredibly good, and some not so much, but no matter what, his passion was still there. However some adjustments would have to be made, he wanted to grow these boys into young men and give them the skills they needed to succeed. Once the boys were old enough Steve got them into youth baseball. He began coaching the teams his boys were playing on. Teaching fundamentals at the beginning stages of their baseball careers was a very successful way to coach. Not only teaching his children but all the children that played on the team. All summer long for many years just like a ritual from ancient times. They would practice, play, and learn valuable skills to take with them not only on the field but also in life. Little did he realize how many people he had impacted over the course of all those years.
Steve was a large man, very tall thick build for many years. Baseball and other sports continued with the boys. The music slowed down but continued on. He still loved playing music, but he had found his new passion, his sons. Steve’s lack of taking care of himself had started to catch up with him, he had gained much weight among other issues. One day Liddy and Steve had to break terrible news to their children. Steve had cancer. Not terminal, but there was still risk. He fought hard, went to treatments and with the support of his family, Steve overcame this terrible disease. There was always risk that it could come back, but Steve kept fighting so he could watch his sons grow up.
Steve was a gentle giant. Always kind to other people, and absolutely always there for his wife and children. He never wanted his sons to grow up like he did. He did not want them to be musicians for the rest of their lives. Steve refused to pass his musical genes down to them. In trade he taught them more important things, like how to respect and treat people, and how to take care of their family. Years go by, the kids start growing up and get through high school. The two oldest children are out and living life starting careers, the youngest just graduating from a technical trade school. Life seems to be going very well.
I had known Steve for many years at this point, always a big man he would tower over just about anyone in a crowd. Deep voice that could overtake any conversation. One day sitting at home tragedy had struck again. Steve had an episode, almost like a convulsion. Back and forth to doctor appointments, tests being done, weeks go by. News comes back…it is cancer yet again. One lung had been taken over by this deadly disease. He needed surgery very soon if he wanted any chance in living. Even then, chances were not in his favor. Surgery was a success, they had to remove an entire lung, but they were certain they got it all! He just needed to rest then everyone could join him.
After the surgery Steve did not wake up. He had a bad reaction to some of the medicine he was given. The hospital staff kept him in a coma for months. His wife Liddy, stayed by his side day after day waiting for good news from the doctors. Liddy was a grade school teacher and summer break had just started for her when the surgery took place. The entire summer she waited, they finally got him stable enough to take him out of the coma. By then Liddy had to go back to work. She wore herself out working all day, then going to the hospital day after day. There was much doubt whether Steve was going to make it through any more treatments, but he fought on. He wanted to watch his sons get married and have children of their own, he never gave up.
Over the next couple years Steve continued to battle, getting treatments, going to doctors appointments. Liddy had finally retired and was able to help get Steve back and forth wherever he needed to go. All this battling had finally paid off. There were no signs of cancer left in his body. After two huge battles with the deadly disease, Steve has destroyed every last cancer cell in his body.
The next few years he really enjoyed his family, he was able to watch his oldest son get married, his second son get married, his third son had just been promoted and advancing his career. Then his first grandchild was born! He had never been happier. Steve soon fell ill again, and was admitted into the hospital. His body was failing and he knew it. His family was strong and very positive. His oldest son, to help encourage his father, brought his grandson to see him. For the first time Steve got to hold his grandson. What a proud moment for three generations of the family. Not soon after, while sitting at home, I received a phone call. It was Steve. We spoke for a good while, laughing and joking with each other. We talked about how much of an impact we had on each other and told each other how much we loved one another. Holding tears back as best as I could, he told me how proud he was of me. We said our goodbyes and hung up the phone. Little did I know that was the last time I would ever talk to my Dad. He passed away just a few days later.
I had been so fortunate growing up watching this man, from teaching me how to throw a baseball, to admiring the love of your life. But he taught me one important lesson that everyone needs to learn. Never give up. Growing up I always thought he was a super hero because of his physical size. It turns out he was. Not for his physical size but rather the size of his heart.
In Loving Memory. (The photo was taken the day he passed, I had just made it home from the game when I got the phone call.)