- By Steve Goodier*
At the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, the sport of canoe racing was added to
the list of international competitions. The favorite team in the four-man
canoe race was the United States team. One member of that team was a young
man by the name of Bill Havens.
As the time for the Olympics neared, it became clear that Bill's wife would
give birth to their first child about the time that the U.S. team would be
competing in the Paris games. In 1924 there were no jet airliners from Paris
to the United States, only slow ocean going ships. And so Bill found himself
in a dilemma. Should he go to Paris and risk not being at his wife's side
when their baby was born? Or should he withdraw from the team and remain
with his family?
Bill's wife insisted that he go to Paris. After all, competing in the
Olympics was the culmination of a life long dream. But Bill felt conflicted
and, after much soul searching, decided to withdraw from the competition and
remain home, where he could support his wife when the child arrived. He
considered being at her side his highest priority, even higher than going to
Paris to fulfill his dream.
As it turned out, the United States four-man canoe team won the gold medal
in Paris. And Bill's wife was late in giving birth to their child. She was
so late, in fact, that Bill could have competed in the event and returned
home in time to be with her when she gave birth.
People said, "What a shame." But Bill said he had no regrets. For the rest
of his life, he believed he had made the better decision.
Bill Havens knew what was most important to him. Not everybody figures that
out. And he acted on what he believed was best. Not everybody has the
strength of character to say no to something he or she truly wants in order
to say yes to something that truly matters. But for Bill, it was the only
way to peace; the only way to no regrets.
There is an interesting sequel to the story of Bill Havens...
The child eventually born to Bill and his wife was a boy, whom they named
Frank. Twenty-eight years later, in 1952, Bill received a cablegram from
Frank. It was sent from Helsinki, Finland, where the 1952 Olympics were
being held. The cablegram read: "Dad, I won. I'm bringing home the gold
medal you lost while waiting for me to be born."
Frank Havens had just won the gold medal for the United States in the
canoe-racing event, a medal his father had dreamed of winning but never did.
Like I said, no regrets.
Thomas Kinkade eloquently said, *"When we learn to say a deep, passionate
yes to the things that really matter, then peace begins to settle onto our
lives like golden sunlight sifting to a forest floor.