My friend The Greek…

Me and the Greek, both smiling for Elias at the 2012 Dick's Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, NY.

Me and the Greek, both smiling for Elias at the 2012 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, NY.

Jimmy Demaret wrote a book about his friend Ben Hogan and ended the first chapter by saying “and now I’d like to attempt to pay off at least a small part of that enormous debt I owe the world of golf by putting down on paper all that I know about the game and its greatest asset, my partner Ben Hogan.

Neither myself or my good friend The Greek, a.k.a John Yanni Koutsaris, in Endicott, New York are professional golfers nor anyone that anybody else would be particularly interested in. Not that we are not interesting people, we are, but who other than our family and friends really care?

But I felt compelled to write this short article once I heard him utter a sentence of 14 words on my last trip home to the Greater Binghamton area, which includes Endicott, New York, Yanni’s Hometown. Not that he isn’t a congenial and talkative fellow but these words really inspired me.

You see, I met him five to six Dick Sporting Goods Opens ago at En Joie Golf Course. We were both involved in the golf broadcast and that is how we met. His wife Karyn was pregnant and I never met somebody more excited about life and starting a family than he.

Time went on and they had a beautiful baby boy Elias who sadly died all too soon.

Visiting with Angel Elias at this year's DSGO.

Visiting with Angel Elias at this year’s DSGO.

Through grief and despair John and his wife Karyn endured without Angel Elias in their midst. I wrote about my friends and our cherub in the words included below as “Elias, I was with your parents today.”

The darkest in life became the brightest with the birth of their second son Easton.

The Greeks know how to respect and celebrate life as I found out in attending the 3-in-1 religious ceremony of Baptism-Confirmation- First Communion. With a baptism reception that was more the size of a wedding reception at Atrio’s, I learned of the family’s love of baseball too. Sitting at the California Angels table, it seemed to be Angel Elias’ table too. His presence was felt, it always is.

With Karyn & The Greek & Baby Easton!

With Karyn & The Greek & Baby Easton!

From a guy I have only known for five years and am still trying to figure out what his real name is—John, Yanni, or The Greek, the ultimate inspiration came as he welcomed everybody to Easton’s celebration. With difficulty getting the words out he simply looked at his wife with baby Easton in her arms and said:

“I am thankful to God that my wife Karyn can be a mother again.”

We are happy you are a father again too, though you and Karyn never stopped being the best parents any child could hope for.

Those 14 words tell you all you need to know about my good friend The Greek!

We are all happy for the Koutsaris family—Karyn and John, Angel Elias and newly baptized, confirmed and with communion, Easton.

God Bless you and thank you for inspiring all of us!


Elias, I was with your parents today…

Elias, a baby so beautiful, I was with your parents today.
We visited you at your grave, not having to be reminded of you or your risen spirit.
Along a hedge, in a meadow it is a peaceful place.
Your smile is bright on the face of your stone, even brighter in our hearts today more so than the day you were born.
You have brightened our world, brighter than Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
You are a light that will never be diminished. The world is blessed and a better place to have felt your presence if even for a moment in time.
Your parents are the proudest, the most dedicated and loving of all parents here on Earth.
They are doing okay, somehow Dad is managing to deliver the mail and Mom is thinking about resuming her career as well. The grief lessens with each step forward, each day further from your time with them. Thankfully the joy of you and your memory brighten as each day goes by.
It’s Mom and Dad doing okay, working and staying busy. Together with family and a community of friends they are managing to get along with life. Life is precious and we all know that more now than ever.
We shared bread together, lots of it with olive oil and parmesan cheese, as you know your heritage. Afterwards we went to a club for gelato and your father went up and sang for the first time since you left us.
The song was a duet written by Elton John but it seemed like Dad sung the words with you and Mom echoed in with a chorus of love.
“I took a chance and changed your way of life.”
In reality we simply loved and you changed our way of life, all for the better.
“I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free.”
Elias- we know you live in complete freedom, complete truth and complete love.
We gained everything through knowing you. Thank you beautiful baby.
Elias I was with your parents today…
The sun may go down each evening only to rise in the morning.
Your precious presence is always raised in our minds and in our hearts.
We are doing okay though still missing you too much for these words to say.
God Bless our Enduring Elias…