The media has gone crazy about Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice discovered by a passing reporter in Columbus, Ohio. When the video was posted on the Columbus Dispatch web site and went viral, Ted Williams suddenly went from rags to riches. Last week he appeared with his mother on the CBS Early Show. He has been offered lucrative contracts to use his unique voice to market everything from Kraft products to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Williams’ sudden rise to fame in the You Tube world comes after a long record of disappointments. While Williams himself seems like a likeable and nice guy, his addictions to alchohol and drugs have left a wide wake of disappointment among those who have been closest to him. When reunited with his mother, she publicly warned him not to disappoint her again.
Most notable among those he has disappointed is his ex-wife, Patricia Kirtley, who is partially blind. According to the New York Daily News, Williams abandoned Patricia and their four girls twenty-three years ago. Patricia raised their four daughters as a disabled single mom. It was difficult. But, she persevered. She went to school and received a license as a blind vendor. She even took on Ted Williams’ child by another woman and raised the boy as her own son. In addition, two of her sisters and a cousin took in children Williams fathered by other women. She says she did not want to see the children sent to foster homes.
Throughout it all, it appears that Patricia avoided becoming bitter or resentful. If Ted showed up for Thanksgiving, she welcomed him, knowing he would not stay. Her oldest daughter, Julia, now 30, said, “Our mom was our sole provider. She is more than a phenomenal person. My father is a nice guy, but he fell victim to the streets. We prayed for him and we worried about him, but we became accustomed to the fact that he just wasn’t there.”
We have to hope that Ted Williams makes good use of the fortune that has unexpectedly fallen into his lap, that he remains sober and demonstrates responsibility toward his family. Williams is the latest example of our media driven world with its misplaced values. The list of gifted and talented people who earn millions for their athletic, dramatic and vocal talents while demonstrating irresponsible behavior toward others is a long one. Ted Williams and Patricia Kirtley’s story reminds us that the real heroes are often unsung, unrecognized and unrewarded by the world.
The media, of course, will move on. This week the media will turn its attention to other events and Ted Williams’ moment in the spotlight will fade. What remains to be seen is what he does with his opportunity and how he handles his responsibility to his family.
The Bible has some rather strong words to say regarding our responsibility to our families. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8). The true measure of our lives is never found in the extent of our fame or the size of our fortune. The true measure lies in the investment we make day in and day out to our families and others.