The sixth brother of nine children, Calvin and his siblings went to school during the day and helped their mother – an amputee with only one leg – pick cotton in Mississippi after school to provide finances for all nine children to graduate college.
by Pete Ferguson
Saturday we celebrated the life of Calvin Blossom. For over two hours we heard uplifting stories from friends, family, and coworkers, each recounting their interactions with Calvin – the Awesome Blossom.
At one point my seven-year-old daughter pulled on my arm and looked up at me and asked, “was Calvin perfect? – did he ever do anything wrong?”
I had to chuckle a bit – the beauty of eulogies and funerals is that everyone gathers together and usually brings out the best of your life. I’m sure Cal had his shortcomings and challenges, but Saturday was devoted to the ways he had overcome the “human condition” and dealt with the challenges of life.
He played college basketball and received a business degree. He met his wife by selling her a life insurance policy. It was joked that he had purchased her for life. Calvin and Doris are a “ying-and-yang relationship.” Doris is more the wild child while Cal is more the steady anchor. He quickly took to her two young children despite their initial resistance to actively plot to “make him go away”, they are both quick to call him “dad.”
Cal originally came to Utah to visit his brother around the year 2000 and immediately fell in love with the mountains. He brought his family to Utah and found a job in security – which is where I met him and we hired him away from another company to work for Barton Security around the Olympics in 2002 as I recall.
Cal’s attitude towards life can be summed up by an account given by his brother. When he announced he was working at eBay, his brother asked if he had a senior position as a VP? Cal told him security. His brother asked “why security?” to which Cal answered it was time to give back, time to serve.
And serve he did at home, at work, and within his congregation. A journal found by his wife dated back to the year 2000. In it are the names of coworkers, including myself, for whom Calvin prayed for regularly.
He demonstrated his faith in the way he lived, and for those who opened the door with Cal and discussed religion and prayer, Cal would challenge them regularly and ask if they were praying, and offer to pray with them.
I had never met his fellow church members prior to Saturday, but they had heard my name and the names of others in attendance from work in prayer circles as well as the names of many other attendees.
Cal was consistent. He woke at three each day to study scriptures and to pray. Around 5:45 he would kiss Doris goodbye on the forehead. He arrived ten minutes early to work – never missing a scheduled day.
I recall getting a bit upset at the condition the night crew left the security office early in Cal’s career. I told the entire team my expectations that they keep a clean office and reception desk. Cal immediately starting arriving even earlier, ensured the garbages were empty and often vacuumed, cleaned the counters and took on other tasks. I recall thanking him, but reminding him that everyone needed to be involved. Over time others felt compelled to help because they saw how much he was doing.
That is what made Cal so successful in security. Too often officers think the key to getting someone to comply with a policy is through brawn, not compassion. Compassion is usually seen as a weakness – I’ve heard many officers tell me if they show compassion, everyone will take advantage of them.
I had my suspicions with Cal early on that this might be the case. But as many times as I saw Cal open a door for someone, I also saw him remind people to have their badges out and follow through with enforcing policy.
Because people knew Cal so well, they didn’t want to disappoint him. They complied to a policy not because of fear of consequences for not following – they followed out of respect because of the respect Cal showed them.
He was quick to offer to hold over if a coworker was running late or called off. He parked in the same parking stall, two over from the visitor parking. (Whenever we came back from a late lunch at 2:00, we’d wait for Cal to give us his prized spot rather than have to park far off.)
Cal called his son at least once a day (even when he was in the military overseas), same for his wife and I assume for his daughter as well. They would talk briefly and pray.
The formula for the impact Cal had on people was so simple that I think many are left demanding more to his “secret” to success. He learned to serve others before himself. He dropped to his knees in prayer when he didn’t have the answers. He rose from his knees and took action by serving more.
He is human like the rest of us. I’m sure he dealt with overcoming his own demons as we all must. But in the snapshot of the final years of his life that most of us knew him, it would appear he was always one step ahead of his demons through service, action, and prayer.
Cal is a unique individual who will be dearly missed. We have each been left better people for having known him. The hope is that we take this inspiration and allow it to fuel us to improve our own journey through life. To remember the importance of putting others first.
Thanks Cal for your service, your patience, your example, and your friendship. You will be remembered well, and you will be missed.
Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad – or made some one feel glad? If not I have failed in deed.
Remembering Calvin Blossom (Chris Miller)
Thoughts on a Life Less Ordinary (Carija Ihus)
Making Your Dent in The Universe (LearnActShare)
Remembering Calvin Blossom – The Influence One Life Can Have (LearnActShare)