Last week, in an article I wrote about the death of my Aunt Honeybee, I shared some experiences I had with her while I was growing up. After her funeral, some of my relatives who had read the article told me that they never knew about the affection I had toward her. At first, I was surprised by what they said. I had not anticipated that reaction from anyone. The comments prompted me to question why I really felt the way I did about her. If you didn’t have a chance to read what I wrote, you can read it here.
The champion of our family neighborhood died last week. I’ve written before about how I grew up in a family neighborhood that included seven families. My grandparents, Tom and Effie Williams, lived next door to my parents. All the other families in the neighborhood were made up of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. While all the women in the neighborhood were generous, loving, hardworking Catholic women who did a magnificent job of managing their households and raising their children, there was one woman who stood out among all of them. To me, she was the champion of the neighborhood.
I’ve written before about how I grew up in a family of 17 children. I have two older brothers and two older sisters. My oldest sister’s name is Mary Kathryn “Mary Kay” Hersemann. Mary Kay and her husband, Joel, raised three children: Angelica, Joseph “Joey,” and Alanna. On Sunday, December 1, 2019, Joey was killed as a result of an automobile accident. He left behind his wife, Katie, and three young children, Layla, Madison, and Sam. Joey was 38 years old when he died.
During the years that my children were growing up — the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s — my wife, Georgette, made sure that they were exposed to as much music as possible. When she was pregnant with each of them, she would pray, read, and sing out loud, so they would develop a love for God, reading, and music. After they were born, she did the same thing while she nursed each of them.
A local lawyer who I know — I’ll call him Rick — was recently sentenced by a federal court judge to 60 days in prison for taking money that belonged to one of his elderly clients. The Lawyer is in his mid-sixties. I want to share with you a letter that I sent to him after the judge handed down the sentence. I think you will agree that the advice that I shared with him would be of benefit to anyone. The sending of the letter was what I considered to be a spiritual work of mercy. Here’s what I wrote in the letter:
In 1996, my wife, Georgette, started experiencing severe headaches. At the time, she was pregnant. She went to her doctor and after an examination was told there was a growth behind her left eardrum. Her doctor referred her to Dr. Peter Smith, a specialist in St. Louis, and told her that she needed to see him as soon as possible.