One of the pictures that I have in my office was taken in 1966, at the wedding of my mom’s younger sister, Mary Ann. There are four people in the picture — me, my two cousins, Harry and Tommy LaHood, and our grandmother, Cecilia (Ceil) LaHood. My cousins and I are standing together with our arms around each other’s shoulders. I’m in the middle, my cousin Harry is to my right, and Tommy is to my left. Grandma Ceil is standing behind us with a smile on her face. She looks like she could have been our Guardian Angel.
I’ve written before about my sister, Anna Maria. She was the 11th child in my parent’s family of 17 children. One of my earliest memories of her is when she was two years old. Every time I saw her, she was clutching her security blanket. It didn’t matter whether she was sitting, standing, walking, running, or laying down, it was as though her security blanket was attached to her body. She was always happy, and out of all my sisters, she had the sweetest disposition.
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.
My wife and I took a few days off last week and drove to Branson, Missouri, for a short vacation. It was our third trip to Branson. Our last trip there was more than 15 years ago. One of the reasons we wanted to go to Branson was because we had heard about a Broadway-quality musical show about the life of Jesus that was playing at one of the theaters. The title of the show was Jesus.
I have a client — I’ll call her Joanne — who is a devout Christian. Joanne periodically contacts me and asks for my opinion about a faith-based issue she is struggling with. She recently asked me if I think she has an obligation to assist her husband’s mother — I’ll call her Frances — with her basic personal, healthcare, and financial needs.
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.
I’ve written before about Fr. Clair Bourdereaux, a Franciscan priest who was assigned to Sacred Heart Church in downtown Peoria in 1976. He remained there for 19 years, until his death in January 1995. Fr. Clair had all the qualities of a great counselor. He was holy, smart, wise, gentle, diplomatic, compassionate, and understanding. He had the unique ability to connect with people on their level and set them on a path toward holiness and happiness.
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.