Max is an elected member of the Missouri Bar Board of Governors, so a couple of times a year, we attend meetings in Jefferson City, and then either Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Branson or Columbia. This year, we are spending a couple of days in St. Louis, where our hotel room overlooks Busch Stadium, and while we are here, we are seeing a conglomeration of friends — old and new — which is worth the trip.
This year, the president of the Missouri Bar is Reuben Shelton, who is, sorry Mizzou fans, a former KU basketball player. Reuben is fun to talk to, not only because he is a Jayhawk in Tiger country, but because he has stories to tell. This year, his story was about his 17-year-old grandson, who next year will be attending and playing basketball at — Duke! Reuben was rooting for his grandson to be a Jayhawk until he went to his grandson’s house and found Mike Krzyzewski sitting in the living room, singing the praises of the Blue Devils. Reuben knew it was all over but the crying.
We also met a very serious-looking young man who is now attending Washington University in a law/business program. In the midst of a bunch of lawyers who had dressed down for the late evening, this kid was wearing a dark suit, a stiffly starched white shirt, and an appropriate tie. It turns out he is a transplant from New York, and his high school counselor thought he would be a good fit for Wash U. So here he is.
Right next to him was a young woman who had just passed the bar. I did a cheerleader “Woo Hoo!,” and her mother, who was standing next to her, said, “Could you do that a little more loudly?” She was very excited for her little girl, but I kept the cheer quiet, regardless of her enthusiasm.
In the hotel, Max recognized Dennis Eckersley, who pitched for, most memorably, the Oakland As and the St. Louis Cardinals, one year winning the Cy Young Award. Though I didn’t ask for his autograph, I did shake his hand. He’s pretty cute, but he’s no Tony Gonzalez.
I also got to vent my dissatisfaction with the new law I have been disparaging in this space. My griping will have little effect, even though I was talking to the immediate past and current Chief Justices of the Missouri Supreme Court. They sent me to of one of the legislators who had a hand in putting the law together. Unfortunately, he is from the St. Louis area and doesn’t really understand how what might work in his city doesn’t work well at all in Sedalia. He agreed to talk to me, though, so I will get to explain the law’s ramifications in a small town.
The most sobering part of the night came when I was sharing my love of John Grisham books with a man from St. Louis. We both agreed that “A Time to Kill” is his best, but right behind is “A Painted House.” He told me he had actually met Mr. Grisham, at a UVA basketball game in Charlottesville, Virginia. He told the story of his son’s getting to sit next to Mr. Grisham on the front row when Grisham found out that the son was in Charlottesville for a clinical trial; he had cancer. According to the father, his son talked often about that night during the last year of his life. Not much prepares a person to hear, even from a complete stranger, “My son died.” I went to sleep thinking about it, and I woke up thinking about it.
I look forward to these gatherings every year, because we always are surprised by something new. We also meet new people who enrich us and give us a wider view of life, helping us remember that everybody has a story. I love discovering and telling them.
Deborah Mitchell is a a local attorney and a Municipal Court Judge.