It may be that the idea was every bit as goofy as I thought it would be. A little over a week ago KIRO-FM’s John Curley and other folks from KIRO did a live reading of “It’s a Wonderful Life” on the radio. When I first heard they were doing it I thought they were goofing. I pictured the readers cracking up over their lines, like Jimmy Fallon on “Saturday Night Live,” or everyone on “The Carol Burnett Show.”
If you chance to listen to it, you’ll see that they did their best to put on a decent production, similar to what I’ve heard from the old time radio shows. No matter. I didn’t listen to it. I didn’t take time out for it. I don’t remember what I was doing, but chances are it involved work.
The next morning I was traveling into work again and the station played a small clip from the reading. It comes toward the end. I think since the movie is 65 years old I can talk about the ending without spoiling it. The main character, George Bailey, needs help from his friends and he gets it. The line played on the radio was:
“I wouldn’t have a roof over my head if it wasn’t for you, George.”
George was a building and loan guy who contrary to the stereotypes we plant on financial pros today was compassionate. When he needed that same compassion from his customers, in the end he got it.
That single line brought tears to my eyes. There is a long list of people who have been compassionate with me. It starts with my parents. My dad, whose mobility is limited to how far someone can wheel him, continues to show me compassion. Diana, my wife, sticks with me while I probably show a lack of gratitude for the blessings I have in favor of the accomplishments I want. My brothers gave up some of their youth to help raise me and still reach out to me. My kids are compassionate, too. They humor me. They accept my goofiness without too much complaint. If I embarrass them, they don’t let on. My workmates and bosses and my friends lift me. They always have.
The show, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” has always been one of my favorites. I’d love to force my kids to sit through it if I thought it would sink in, but perhaps this is where I show some compassion.
I’ve listened to more of the radio show, and they did a nice job. I can relate to George Bailey, if not in the moment of crisis, in the ending. My life, like his, has been absolutely wonderful.
“Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends.”