Lens of Love

In the heat of summer, he was there. The game ebbed and flowed around him as players steadily wheeled their chairs from base to base, or reached down for a lightly hit grounder, or waited for the next pitch with an aluminum bat and a coach’s help.

He never intruded, rarely drew attention. But through his lens, the Monday night softball game became magic. No – through his lens, the game revealed the magic it already held, as the joy and eagerness of each player made them shine like stars.

This was the Ed Navarro that Heather and I knew.

And this was the Ed that Missy loved.

By now, you’ve probably heard or read about Ed’s passing. He was one of those guys who makes a community work, the sort where you read the obituary and say “Wait – he did that, too?” The piece in the Times-Call hit all the beats – co-founder of El Comité, passionate local lawyer and advocate for the Hispanic community, and always ready to capture a local activity or a youth sporting event with his perfectly placed camera.

Most of it, I’m a little embarrassed to say, was new to me. That’s how it often is with the people in our lives; we see the small piece that intersects our own, unaware that we’re dealing with a leading actor in the show.

But then, I’m not sure how many knew the piece we saw, either. The part that greeted the Monday night crowd at Clark Centennial Park.

The part that was a fixture at the summertime “Softball for All.”

Some of you have seen me write about the summer softball program here for the disabled; the one that runs for three innings with plenty of cheers, no outs and no score. Every year, our ward Missy lives for the next season to arrive, when she can don her Niwot Nightmares T-shirt and grab a bat, a glove, and a coach’s arm for support as she travels the bases.

I teasingly call her “Hollywood” during the season because she strides the field like a celebrity, often stopping to acknowledge the cheers of the crowd with a wave or even a bow. And like any good celebrity, her room is full of the photos of her accomplishments, on the walls and filling well-thumbed albums.

Every one of those photos came from Ed Navarro.

Each year, at the end of the season, the teams hold an ice-cream social at the Longmont Senior Center. And each year, they and their families arrive to find the walls covered with dozens, if not hundreds, of photographs from Ed that he had taken at the games. Each player could bring home their own, the shots that revealed their own inner Mantle and Galarraga and A-Rod. And each got to keep an album with shots of everyone. The later years even included a CD in the album that held every shot.

We always cheered him and gave him a card and a gift. It could never have been enough. Not compared to what he gave us.

Not compared to the love that shone from every wall.

The funny thing is, we hold up folks like Ed as special. And they are. They’re priceless. But their greatest power, I think, is to remind us that anyone can be an Ed.

We all have something to offer. We all have something to share. It might be a moment’s kindness. It might be a talent that creates a memory. It might be something, anything, that says “You’re human. You matter. You are loved and seen.”

It’s easy to forget that sometimes, to feel alone. When we reach out, we rebuild the family. And that lifts all of us up.

We can all be important in someone’s eyes.

Ed’s eyes captured memories and shared them freely. And in those memories, a whole league was revealed as All-Stars.

Thank you, sir.

Our caps are off to you.

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