I had never seen a ball move like that in my life. Denny’s pitches would hum along, this way and that way, coming right at me with movement. Instinctively, I wound up catching it, but I don’t know how I caught it.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Published 2022

Dennis Tovar spent half his life dealing with the effects of a traumatic spinal cord injury. For anyone who knew him, there was no getting around the injury. It became a black-letter day for family and friends—August 23, 1980. It was a warm Saturday night in the Chicago suburbs. There was a party. Lots of families were there. As the hours ticked by, things started to get out of hand. Then tragedy struck.

Life would never be the same again. But there was more to Dennis Tovar than his tragic accident. He lived life to the fullest on both sides of that accident.

His story became an inspiration to family and friends, and those same people decided to share stories about the man they knew so well, the man who lived life to the fullest no matter the hand he had been dealt. In this volume, more than a dozen people share their fondest memories of Dennis and the wisdom he imparted on their lives. Some of the stories will make you laugh, and others will make you cry.

Laughing. Crying. Sharing stories. That sounds like a full life. And that sounds an awful lot like Dennis Tovar.

A peek inside

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Excerpt from page

Finally, after so many years, maybe 20 years ago, he said to me, “Remember when we would stop at the Post Office and you would start unloading? And I told you that I was always so busy I was never able to come out and help you?”

I said, “Yeah, sure. I remember.”

He said, “I went inside and got a cup of coffee and watched you through the window. When you were done, that’s when I came out.”

“You’re kidding me!” I told him.

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Life Lessons on the Lerner Truck
Dennis taught me many lessons while we worked together on that Lerner Newspapers truck. One of the first stops was at a local post office. He’d say, “Andy, I’m going to go inside and talk to the guys about what we need to do. Start unloading, and then when I come out we’ll finish.”

I was fine with that and started unloading papers. And unloading papers and unloading papers. I was a real little guy when I was that age. So I’m unloading, and we did it this way every time. It was one of the regular stops on the route.

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At the same time, he was kind of teaching me things. He’d say, “You got to watch out for this.” Or while we were driving, if somebody cut us off or got in the way, he’d say, “See, you’ve got to watch out for people like that. They don’t use their indicators, and they’ll pull right in front of you. You’ve got to watch for that.”

It wasn’t that he necessarily thought of things to tell me. Rather, as things happened he would turn them into a lesson. He was great about doing that.

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He said, “No. Things aren’t always what they seem to be, so keep your eyes open.”

We talked about all kinds of things while we were driving around in that Lerner truck. At that time he and his two brothers had a little convenience store. He’d talk about what was going on with that. I was playing baseball or basketball in the winter, and he would ask me about my teams and how that was going. It’s hard to remember some of the conversations exactly, but he would always initiate. He would try to draw me into conversation and talk about what’s going on.

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