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.
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.
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.