Last month, on January 21, 2018, I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the opening my law practice. I graduated from law school in May 1982, and received my license to practice law in November 1982. Two months later, on January 21, 1983, I rented an office from an established Peoria attorney.
Nine years later (1992), I hired my first associate attorney. At that time, I was 35 years old. The attorney that I hired was 10 years younger than me, and had just graduated from law school.
At the time that I hired the attorney, I had an office manager, two full-time secretaries, a full-time receptionist, and a part-time secretary. Hiring an attorney was a big step for me, and I didn’t feel as though I knew enough about running a business to continue to move forward without some assistance.
The same year that I hired the attorney, I signed a contract with Gerber Business Development Corporation to provide me with coaching on how to properly run and grow my business. I had committed to paying the attorney a large salary and I didn’t want to make any catastrophic mistakes in managing and growing my law firm.
I found out about the Gerber company when I read a book that was written by its founder, Michael Gerber. The title of the book was, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. What Gerber said in his book about small businesses in America hit a raw nerve with me.
I had previously represented several business clients who had done well for a while and then, for one reason or another, had made mistakes that caused their businesses to fail. I had also handled several bankruptcies for individuals who had failed in their own businesses. Many of the businessmen that Gerber wrote about in his book reminded me of my own clients and their failure to succeed in their businesses.
Georgette and I met on August 4, 1978, when we were both 21 years old. We were married in June 1980, while I was on break from law school. Ten months later, in March 1981, we had our first child, Harry. I graduated from law school in May of the following year.
We moved back to Peoria during the summer of 1982. At that time, Georgette was pregnant with our second child, Anna. I started my law practice in January 1983, and Anna was born the following month. We had our third child, Maria, 13 months later, in March 1984. When Maria was born, I was 26 years old.
It was during this period of time that my mom and my sister Colleen started commenting about how I had become too serious and I needed to lighten up. Colleen is a year and a half younger than me, and of my eight sisters, she was the one I was closest to while we were growing up.
When my mom and sister told me that I had become too serious, I hadn’t realized that my behavior had changed from the young, carefree guy who liked to have a good time and tease other people to an older guy who felt overwhelmed by the burdens of life.
But I wasn’t bothered by their comments about my being too serious. To me, that was what responsible adults did — they grew up and did their best to care for and support their families. In some respects, my mom and my sister were correct. My newfound responsibilities made me feel overwhelmed. At times, I felt as though I was doing well just to keep my head above water. Georgette and I had three babies in three years — Maria was born on Harry’s third birthday — and I was doing my best to support my family while managing my law practice.
Now, more than 30 years later, Georgette and I have 13 grandchildren, with three more on the way. I’m still serious, but I’m having more fun now than I’ve had in years. I’ve given myself permission to lighten up and revert to my childhood when I’m around my grandchildren. Their parents sometimes get irritated with me because they think I get their children riled up too much. But that’s OK with me, because I’m finally able to do what my mom and my sister wanted me to do all those years ago.
I recently joined my wife and some of our children at a local theater to see the movie, The Greatest Showman. The movie is a musical about the life of P.T. Barnum. It begins when Barnum is a boy. He is the son of a poor tailor who does work for a wealthy man. The man looks down on Barnum and his father, because of their lower-class status.
Barnum is a fun-loving boy who is infatuated with the wealthy man’s daughter. The man knows that Barnum likes his daughter and makes it clear to Barnum that he’ll never be good enough for her. After that, the daughter is sent to finishing school for several years. While she is away at school, she and Barnum continue to keep in contact by writing letters to each other.
Years later, when the daughter returns home from school, she is reunited with Barnum. They end up getting married and starting a family. After borrowing money from a local bank, Barnum buys an old museum building in downtown Manhattan. He then sets up Barnum’s American Museum, which showcases wax figures.
After struggling to make his new business work, Barnum’s children tell him that instead of featuring wax figures, he needs to have characters who are “alive.” Barnum likes the idea and begins searching for and hiring “freaks” to serve as performers. As he is rounding up his new cast of characters, Barnum sings the unique and mesmerizing song, Come Alive.
As Barnum’s new show gains popularity in New York, a reporter for the New York Herald is highly critical of Barnum and his “freak show.” The reporter’s columns about Barnum and his show stir up trouble among certain people in the community, including the upper-class members of the community.
To enhance his reputation with the upper-class, Barnum convinces Philip Carlisle, a local playwright from a wealthy family, to join him in his business. To raise Barnum’s status, Carlisle arranges a trip to Europe for Barnum and his cast of characters to meet Queen Victoria.
I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.
I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.
Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.
In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.
I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.
My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.
It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.
Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?
But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.
I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.
Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.
Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.
Last week, I wrote about a couple who was having financial problems because of the husband’s inability to work. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the article:
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 35 years. I’ve dealt with hundreds of couples who, after years of marriage, are facing an unexpected crisis. You would think that after being married for 20 or more years, married couples would be more patient and forgiving of each other than they were when they were newly married. But that’s usually not the case. The fact that they’ve spent years together seems to somehow inhibit their ability to practice real patience and forgiveness toward each other.
Instead of being patient and forgiving, they’re extremely frustrated and angry with each other. Why?
When couples get married, there’s always great hope for the future. With that hope comes the expectation that they will be able to work out all their problems. There is also an expectation that they will someday be able to overcome whatever bad habits or deficiencies they have.
Unfortunately, as each year passes, nothing really changes. Husbands and wives stop making the effort that is required to please each other. It’s almost as if they’ve been through too much together. They’re worn out and exhausted. They’ve run out of patience.
I’ve written before about a saying that is common in the business world: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This saying stands for the proposition that the more familiar you are with a person, the more contemptible that person becomes.
Over time, as people in the business world become more familiar with each other, their defects and weaknesses become more evident. They are exposed to and become tired of each other’s excuses, bad habits, broken promises, lack of respect, mood swings, angry outbursts, and lack of appreciation. Before long, their patience wears thin, and the slightest infraction causes them to treat each other with contempt.
Last week, I had an appointment with a man — I’ll call him Jim — who hired me eight months ago to represent him on a personal injury case. As usual, Jim brought his wife with him to the appointment. I’ve met with Jim and his wife on four occasions over the past eight months. Jim was injured when a large truck disregarded a stop sign and collided with his vehicle in the middle of an intersection. Because of his injuries, Jim has not been able to return to work. He’s been without an income for eight months.
Jim and his wife are in their late 30s. He’s a skilled tradesman who has been a member of a trade union for more than 20 years. Jim has never had any problem finding work, primarily because he is willing to travel to other states to work, when necessary. Since the accident, Jim’s financial situation has become progressively worse. He has had to borrow money to support his wife and children, and he also recently cashed in part of his retirement, so he could keep up with his bills.
Prior to the accident, Jim’s wife did not work outside the home. A few months after the accident, she felt that she had no other choice but to get a job, so she applied for and secured a job at a local business.
Each of the times I’ve met with Jim, he’s been upbeat and happy. He’s an intelligent, good-natured person who likes to talk and tell stories. His wife has come to all his appointments and has always been courteous and friendly — until last week.
Last week, when I entered the conference room to meet with them, Jim was the same as he’s always been, but his wife was quiet and had an angry look on her face. Her demeanor indicated to me that she and Jim either argued on the way to my office, or she was fed up with his situation.
I talked to Jim about his condition and he indicated to me that he was still receiving physical therapy three times a week. He said that he probably wasn’t going to be able to return to work for at least another 10 to 12 months. He told me that before the accident, he worked at the same trade for 20 years.
Every year during the Christmas Season, there are articles published that are critical of the song, Mary Did You Know. As expected, in early December, Fr. Robert McTeigue, SJ, published an article with the title, “The Problem With ‘Mary Did You Know.’” In the article, Fr. McTeigue criticized the following lyrics: “Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new? This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.”
Fr. McTeigue’s complaint was that the lyrics imply that Mary was a sinner who needed to be delivered from her sins. This is contrary to Catholic doctrine which states that Mary was preserved free from all stain of original sin from the moment of her immaculate conception, which allowed her to be a pure vessel in which the Son of God could be conceived and born without ever having come into contact with sin.
Another article that was published before Christmas stated that the song implies that Mary was not fully aware that she was the mother of God. The article went on to say that anyone who is familiar with the Bible knows that Mary possessed knowledge that she was the Mother of God, not only because of the Angel Gabriel’s announcement (Luke 1:26-56), but also because of her “song of praise” — known as “The Magnificat” — which indicated that she was aware of her role in the salvation of mankind. Here are the first two sentences of the Magnificat:
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his handmaid. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; for he who is mighty, has done great things for me and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49)
Whenever I read anything about the life of Mary, I think about a book that I read in the early 1980s, while I was in law school. The title of the book was, The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary. The content for the book was taken from the recorded visions of the well-known 19th-century Catholic mystic, Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774 – 1824).
One of the ten principal virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary was “continual mental prayer.” During her life, the Blessed Mother was constantly in tune with God’s will. Every morning she woke up thinking about God, she thought about Him continually throughout the day, and she went to bed thinking about Him. She was “the new Eve,” who possessed the same preternatural gifts that Adam and Eve possessed before they sinned.
As a reminder, in addition to an immortal soul, God gave our first parents, Adam and Eve, the preternatural gifts of integrity, bodily immortality, and infused knowledge. The definition of preternatural is “that which is beyond the natural but is not strictly supernatural.”
The preternatural gift of integrity (the absence of concupiscence) gave Adam and Eve the natural ability to control their desires and passions. Although they could be tempted from outside forces, they could not be tempted from within. The preternatural gift of bodily immortality meant that Adam and Eve possessed bodies that would never die. The preternatural gift of infused knowledge meant that they did not have to study, work, or sacrifice to obtain knowledge. They were created with some knowledge of God and complete knowledge of the secular world.
It was the first sin of Adam and Eve that destroyed the preternatural gifts of integrity, bodily immortality, and infused knowledge. From then on, every person who has come into existence has been conceived without the preternatural gifts, except for the Blessed Virgin Mary. Because of the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of God was conceived in her mother’s womb without sin; therefore, from the moment of conception, she possessed the preternatural gifts of integrity, bodily immortality, and infused knowledge.
I recently watched a video of a presentation that was made by a businessman who owns several successful companies. His companies generate more than $100 million per year in gross revenue. One of the topics that he touched upon was the difficulty that a business owner has in trying to manage and balance his or her business life with their personal life.
He talked about how business owners sometimes shut down and isolate themselves from family and friends when they become overwhelmed. He said that when that happens, a business owner feels bad because an important part of his or her support network — spouse and family — are unable to offer the support and encouragement that is needed to be happy and fulfilled.
He emphasized the importance of establishing a plan and setting aside the time and energy that is necessary to continue to focus on and nurture relationships while continuing to dedicate an appropriate amount of time and effort to operate the business. He then introduced a woman who he identified as a relationship expert and asked her to speak about the importance of people balancing their relationships with their business lives.
When the woman began speaking, she explained that she is a “Love Coach” who has had extensive experience working with couples. As she spoke, I got the impression that she is not particularly religious. She talked about how “the universe” acts in certain ways to align us with individuals who will help us to successfully get through life.
There are a lot of very good life and business coaches who talk in terms of what the universe can do for us, rather than give credit to God for what He does for us. Over the years, I’ve heard several professional coaches say, “Call it whatever you want — the universe, Buddha, Allah, or God — it doesn’t really matter, but there is a certain kind of energy that exists that is available to help you to successfully navigate through life.”
One of the first things I do when I hire an associate attorney is teach the attorney how to build rapport with prospective clients. The definition of “rapport” is “a close and harmonious relationship in which people communicate well and understand each other’s feelings or ideas.”
An important element to building rapport with others is to use techniques that help them to know, like, and trust you.
Is it possible to do that with most of the people we meet? Is there a process we can follow?
In his book, The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over, Jack Schafer, a former special agent for the FBI’s National Security Division’s Behavioral Analysis Program, described the techniques he used as an FBI agent to influence, attract, and win criminals over so that they would divulge personal and confidential information to him.
In the chapter that discussed how to build rapport, Schafer wrote:
People are communal beings. We naturally seek to connect to other people. Rapport builds a psychological bridge between people and paves the way for various levels of friendship to develop. If I can build rapport with you, I can be relatively certain you will like me. It’s that simple.
When I interviewed witnesses and suspects, my first task was to build a psychological connection between myself and the person I was interviewing. People, especially suspects, rarely open up to people they don’t like. In the case with suspects, I am asking that person to reveal secrets that would put him or her in prison for a long time. On one occasion, I interviewed a repeat sexual assault suspect. We connected on the topic of sports. Once the rapport bridge was established, I was able to delve deeper into his personal life. Eventually, the suspect confessed his crimes. The suspect voluntarily maintained his connection with me long after his trial, conviction, and sentencing.
On a Thursday evening during the summer of 1971, my dad and I went to Limestone Community High School in Bartonville, Illinois, to register me for the upcoming school year. I had graduated from St. Mark’s Catholic School in May, which was the end of what I considered an eight-year prison term.
I got off to a bad start at St. Mark’s. My first-grade teacher was Sister Lorken, a cruel and unforgiving religious sister who had no business teaching children. Because I had trouble learning how to read, Sister Lorken regularly singled me out for verbal abuse in front of my classmates. She also periodically physically abused me by grabbing my shoulders and shaking me while she yelled at me. At the end of the school year, Sister Lorken recommended to my parents that I be held back. My parents refused her request and insisted that I be allowed to advance to the second grade.
My second grade teacher was Sister Eduarda, who was also very abusive. Unlike today, the mindset of some of the teachers during the 1960s was that the only way to handle young boys who were not performing up to expectations was to ridicule them and, when necessary, use corporal punishment to force them to conform.
During my seventh and eighth grade years, classes were split up between two seventh grade teachers and two eighth grade teachers, one of whom was Sister Theogene. She was as bad as Sister Lorken and Sister Eduarda.
There was one memorable occasion that occurred during the first month of seventh grade. One day while I was walking in the hallway on my way to class, Sister Theogene attacked me from behind and started hitting me on the back of my head with an open hand. As she was hitting me, she yelled at me because my shirt was untucked in back. I was not aware that the back of my shirt had become untucked while I had been sitting in my previous class.
When I was a young girl, whenever we had a family party or gathering, my father, Dumit Ghantous, would always come up to me and say, “It’s time for you to go thank all the people who are here and let them know how much we appreciate and love them.” My dad loved giving speeches, and he loved to hear his children give them. He would want me to come up here today and thank you.
I could stand up here and talk for hours about my dad, and so could most of you. But today, I would like to tell you about the three most important lessons that I learned from my dad.
The first lesson I learned from my dad relates to his faith.
First and foremost, my dad was a man who always trusted in God to lead him. Dad and Mom came to America in 1956 looking to make a better life for themselves and their families. My dad told me once that before he boarded the airplane to come to America, he prayed, “Oh my God, I have only you, my wife, and my daughter. Whatever you direct me to do, I will follow. Please go before me and show me the way.”
When my parents arrived in Peoria, they could not speak, read, or write in English. The only person they knew was my mom’s uncle, Tony Romanous. The only forms of long-distance communication at that time were very expensive phone calls and air mail. Air mail often took up to two weeks to deliver a letter to Lebanon.
In addition to having to adapt to a new language and culture, my dad had a more immediate problem he had to deal with — my mom’s loneliness for her family. Because of her immense sadness, my dad mailed several handwritten letters each week to his brother-in-law, Fred Khattar. Fred was married to my mom’s sister, Jeanette.
Five years ago, in an Adoration Letter article titled “A Prayer for a Beating Heart,” I asked for prayers for my wife, Georgette. In the article, I wrote about a genetic condition that she had that caused the wall of one of the ventricles of her heart to become so thick that her heart was unable to supply her body with a sufficient amount of oxygenated blood. Her health was quickly deteriorating and the only way to correct the problem was through open-heart surgery, which was scheduled for June 16, 2010.
The heart surgery was performed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Georgette’s doctor performed a “septal myectomy,” a surgical procedure that required him to cut away part of the muscle inside her heart. By the grace of God, the surgery was successful, and, after a long recovery, Georgette was able to regain her health and vitality.
Three weeks after Georgette’s surgery, I wrote about the following experience I had with one of the adorers at the St. Philomena Adoration Chapel:
[W]hile I was in the adoration chapel, one of our daily adorers, Beth Fuson, walked up to me and handed me a holy card and a medal to give to Georgette. The holy card had two prayers to Saint John of God, and a short biography of his life.
Saint John of God was born in 1495. As an adult, he devoted himself to assisting Christian slaves in Africa and later started and ran a hospital for the poor and sick in Grenada. He died in 1550 from heart disease and was canonized in 1690. He is known as the patron saint of people who suffer from heart disease.
The week after I wrote about Beth and the holy card, I ran into her in the parking lot outside the adoration chapel. As soon as she saw me, she said, “Thanks for the 15 minutes.” Since I didn’t know what she was talking about, I asked, “What?” She replied,
If you’re a fan of romance novels or chick flicks, you’ve probably heard of Nicholas Sparks. He’s a Catholic novelist, screen writer, and producer who has published 17 romantic novels, nine of which have been made into movies. Three of his most popular movies were Message in a Bottle, The Notebook, and A Walk to Remember.
Sparks has been referred to as “The King of the Love Story.” Despite his reputation and popularity as a romance novelist, earlier this year, Sparks announced that he and his wife of 25 years had separated. They have five children ranging in age from 12 to 23.
You may have heard of John Gray and his wife, Beverly De Angelis. At one time, they were both heralded as relationship experts. Gray wrote the best-selling books, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and Men, Women and Relationships. De Angelis wrote the best-selling books, Secrets About Men Every Woman Should Know and How To Make Love All The Time: Make Love Last a Lifetime. After obtaining fame and fortune as relationship gurus, Gray and De Angelis divorced and went their separate ways.
Maybe you’ve heard of Mark Victor Hansen, the co-creator of the best-selling “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series of books. Hansen held himself out to be a dedicated and loving husband who frequently read poetry to his wife and renewed his marriage vows every year. His loving devotion to his wife came to an abrupt end on his 26th wedding anniversary when he told her that he no longer loved her. Hansen’s wife was devastated and was later quoted as saying, “I never thought this would happen to us. We worked on our relationship.”
If you’re over the age of 50, you probably remember the Ann Landers daily advice column that appeared in newspapers across the country. Although Ann Landers was the woman that Americans looked to for advice on marriage and relationships, in 1975 she shocked her readers by running a column that announced she was getting a divorce from her husband. In that column she admitted, “The lady with all the answers does not know the answer to this one.” I remember the impact the column had on me when I read it. I think it had a significant impact on most of her readers. They genuinely felt sorry for her.
As you may know, a few weeks ago Pope Francis was criticized for making a statement about how Catholics are not required to breed like rabbits. I wasn’t planning on writing about the pope’s remark, but I’ve had some people bring it up for discussion, so I decided I would share my thoughts with you concerning the pope and his comment.
If you’ve been paying any attention to Pope Francis and the amount of publicity he gets for his spontaneous comments, you may believe that he’s reckless and that he talks too much. If you have that belief, you would be able to find a lot of people who agree with you.
Pope Francis is a classic extrovert. There have been seven popes in my lifetime: Pius XII (Mar. 2, 1939 – Oct. 9, 1958), John XXIII (Oct. 28, 1958 – Jun. 3, 1963), Paul VI (Jun. 21, 1963 – Aug. 6, 1978), John Paul I (Aug. 26, 1978 – Sep. 28, 1978), John Paul II (Oct. 16, 1978 – Apr. 2, 2005), Benedict XVI (Apr. 19, 2005 – Feb. 28, 2013), and Francis (Mar. 13, 2013 – present). Six of those seven popes were introverts. The seventh — Pope Francis — is an extrovert. For the first time in our lifetimes, we have a pope who is an extrovert.
In his book, Looking at Type: The Fundamentals, Charles R. Martin wrote about the differences between extroverts and introverts.
According to Martin, as a general rule, extroverts enjoy being around and are energized by other people. They spend a lot more of their time talking than introverts do. Extroverts like making things happen and generally feel at home in the world. They’re usually better able to solve problems when they can talk things through with other people. The following statements ordinarily apply to extroverts:
• They are viewed by others as “outgoing” or as “people persons.”
Last November, I received a letter from the wife (“Carla”) of one of my longtime business coaches and mentors. In the letter, Carla said her husband (“Dan”) was going to be celebrating his 60th birthday in December. She said that, as a gift, she wanted to give him letters from his friends and colleagues. She asked if I would be willing to write a letter to her husband that told him how I had benefited from my relationship with him.
Carla’s letter forced me to think through the handful of men who have had the most influence on my life. I came up with seven men, four of whom influenced me prior to my 18th birthday. The remaining three came along later in life.
Of course, Dan made the list. In my letter, I outlined the admirable traits that each of the first six men on my list possessed. I asked Dan to make sure to read about the other men before reading what I had to say about him, because what I had to say about the other men provided a foundation for what I had to say about him. Here’s what I wrote about the men who had the greatest impact on my life:
1. Carl Williams: My dad and the father of 17 children (nine boys and eight girls). I was his fifth child. Dad’s 85 years old now and is still in good health. The most significant quality that my dad passed on to me was his love for and his loyalty to my mother, Kathryn Williams.
After more than 62 years of marriage, my dad is still in love with and fiercely loyal to my mom. To this day, he still insists that his children show her the love and respect she deserves, and comes to her defense anytime he believes she is not being treated appropriately by any of her children.
2. Tom Williams: My grandfather, who lived in the house next to my parents’ house. His grandchildren called him “Jidu,” the Lebanese name for grandfather. Jidu spent his adolescent and teenage years in Lebanon and was required to actually fight in a war while he was a teenager.