AP
Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey (1) kicks and misses a field goal during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Chicago. The Eagles won 16-15. (AP Photo/David Banks)

PROVO — Chicago Bears fans are relentlessly cursing kicker Cody Parkey for missing a potential game-winning field goal Sunday against Philadelphia (Monday, the NFL officially changed the 43-yard miss to a block by Treyvon Hester, but the damage had already been done). Provo’s Bob Taylor is mourning the loss of his wife Nola this week. How do these things relate?

No matter how much Bears fans vent, Parkey’s failure is fixable. As for Nola's passing, it will be left to God to fix the mornings Bob wakes up without the love and light of his life.

Parkey will kick another day. Nola rests with her legacy, her work done. Bob faces a void.

Parkey will get a mulligan after the heat dies down. Nola’s loved ones only have the memories.

Bob and Nola Taylor have spent a lifetime coaching young people on life’s issues. Their home had an open door.

They were welcoming, positive, funny, empathetic, supportive, interested, plugged in. They were life coaches without knowing it. Their house was a huddle and wandering kids were their team. Bob was more serious, Nola was the giggle. Both knew how to tease with love unfeigned.

Together, they were an emotional tag team on steroids. I know, because as a 14-year-old kid wondering what life was all about, they told me. But more than that, they affirmed they cared.

There is power in that simple act. If not for a series of things here and there that Bob and Nola did for me, who knows what turns my life would have taken back when I was growing up in southeast Provo.

And I was just one of dozens who fed at their table. Now, Bob continues as a single act. RIP, Nola. You fought a good fight, but more importantly, your circus was our circus.

As this new year begins and the funeral for Nola comes this Friday, I salute her and send condolences to her loved ones. As for Parkey, sports can be mighty hard and it can break your heart. But real life is much harder than games.

I like some of the advice offered by Riley Jensen, a mental performance coach for Weber State who has been kind enough over the years to share his insight. His quotes on social media are uplifting in the sports realm.

His words strike a chord this week in wake of extreme criticism of Parkey and the legacy left by the Taylors.

In a piece entitled, “Sports Will Break Your Heart,” found in Medium.com, Jensen wrote:

“With every victory and with every defeat there is a personal choice. You can believe what 'they' say or you can reject 'them.' Don’t believe 'them.' My advice to everyone that is facing 'them?' Don’t believe 'them.' Reject everything 'they' say. It is a valuable tool.

"Do not believe the hype, do not believe the critic. Only you know the truth, follow your gut. The sports world is littered with gutsy people. They are gutsy because they never gave much credence to the praise, nor the criticism. Some people show guts by having the gift of being completely honest with themselves. Are you completely honest with yourself? Take courage. You know what you need to do, now do it.”

In the Twitter universe, part of a new year refrain, Jensen shared a thought: “You are not good enough, yet," he wrote. "You are not strong enough, yet. You can’t win, yet. Remember, the book of your life is not finished, you are still writing. Put some more time on the clock. Take a pause this morning and realize that there are good things to come.”

And, as the saying goes, “Candles lose nothing by lighting another candle."

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Albert Schweitzer said the following: “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

In allowing those words to sink in, I thank Nola Taylor for kindling something inside of me so many decades ago.

And I smile.

Parkey? After that missed field goal he told reporters, “You can't make this up. I feel terrible. I let the team down. That's on me. I have to own it. I have to be a man.”

In the end, that is what it’s all about, taking ownership of what we are now and can be tomorrow, and take advantage of all the help we can get along the way.