A few years ago, I called him and asked if he’d make a big speech in Des Moines, where I live. It was part of a lecture series at Drake University. I knew he was in great demand, I said, but I asked if he’d do it as a favor for me. “They’ll pay you $30,000,” I added. He didn’t think twice. “I’ll do it under one condition,” he said. “The $30,000 goes to that program for kids that is Christopher’s memorial.”
Christopher was one of my sons, and he idolized Tim. Christopher died in 1994, at age 17, from an initial attack of juvenile diabetes. I had left NBC by then, but within hours of Christopher’s death the phone rang at home in Des Moines. It was Russert. I was in tears, and he seemed to be, too. He expressed his deep sorrow, and then he said:
“Look, if God had come to you 17 years ago and said, ‘I’ll make you a bargain. I’ll give you a beautiful, wonderful, happy and healthy kid for 17 years, and then I’ll take him away, you would have made that deal in a second.”
He was right, of course, that was the deal. I just didn’t know it.
As it turns out, there was a similar deal — the terms were 58 years — with Tim.
We just didn’t know it.
The editor’s opinion from Marketplace, Northeast Wisconsin’s business magazine. (Obligatory disclaimer: Most hyperlinks go to outside sites, and we’re not responsible for their content. And like fresh watermelon, peaches, pineapple, grapefruit, tomatoes and sweet corn, hyperlinks can go bad after a while.)