During my seventh and eighth grade years at St. Mark’s Grade School, one of the games that the boys played during recess was “Kill the man with the ball.” The object of the game was to steal the ball from the person who had it, and then hold on to it as long as possible. The boy who had the ball was chased around the playground until someone was able to wrestle the ball from him. Sometimes there was a pileup of boys that occurred while they tried to push their way through to the ball. Whoever got the ball was then chased until someone else pried it out of his hands.
Over the years, I have periodically written about when my six daughters were teenagers. During those years, I attempted to drive home the point that they needed to be careful not to let their guard down when they met a nice guy who appeared to have his act together. I did my best to persuade them to work at discovering the qualities and defects of the young men they met before developing a relationship with them.
A few years ago, I did something that was very unusual. At my daughter Christine’s wedding reception, I got up and told our guests what my five requirements were for a man who wanted to marry one of my daughters. Before I share my five requirements with you, I need to give you some background information.
This month (June 2021), my wife and I will celebrate 41 years of marriage. After we were married in June 1980, we spent a week in Florida for our honeymoon. We split our time between Disney World and the City of Clearwater. At one of the Disney gift shops, we purchased a little Mickey Mouse outfit that we wanted our first boy to wear. We also purchased a Minnie Mouse outfit for our first girl.
My first jury trial was in 1983, the same year that I started practicing law. I was the attorney for a young woman who had been charged in federal criminal court for embezzling money from a local bank. After that case, I continued to accept criminal defense cases for several years. In one of those cases, I represented a young man who was charged with a serious crime. The evidence against him was overwhelming, and he was found guilty of the crime. At the sentencing hearing, he told the judge that he had discovered God, and he was a changed man. The judge responded to his comment by stating,
When I was growing up, it didn’t happen very often, but every time there was a tornado warning, my dad would go outside and look toward the horizon where the tornado was supposed to be coming from. He wanted to see with his own eyes whether a funnel cloud was coming toward our house. There were a couple of occasions when everyone in our family went downstairs and stayed in the basement until it was safe to come up.
When I was 11 years old, every Friday my dad made me write a personal letter to a woman he hardly knew. The woman’s name was Miss Miller, and she was my sixth-grade teacher at St. Mark Catholic Grade School. I don’t remember if it was her idea or his idea. All I remember is that after she called him on the phone a few times to complain about my behavior in class, they developed a scheme in which I was forced to write the following letter on a blank sheet of paper every week: