When I was 12 years old (1969), I experienced two events that changed the course of my life: I got my own paper route, and my mom drove me to the bank and opened a checking account in my name. The reason she opened the account was because she didn’t want the job of writing a check every week to the company that owned the newspaper, the Peoria Journal Star. When we got home from the bank, she taught me how to write checks. When the first bank statement arrived in the mail, she taught me how to reconcile the account.
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.
Last month, my wedding-photographer daughter Teresa scheduled a date and time for a family picture. After working with everyone to accommodate their schedules, she sent a text that provided directions on how to get to the area of Bradley Park where we were going to meet for the picture. The time that she scheduled was immediately after an 11:00 AM Sunday Mass at St. Philomena Church.
Over the years, I’ve periodically been accused by various family members, friends, employees, colleagues, and individuals who read my weekly articles that I am sometimes too blunt and harsh. I admit that this type of behavior is purposeful and intentional. One of the reasons that I behave in this way is because I initially learned it from the three men who had the most influence on me while I was growing up: my dad, Carl Williams, my grandfather, Tom Williams, and my uncle, Bill Williams.
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.
My wife and I were married in June 1980, which was a month after I finished my first year in law school. One of the weekly television shows that we watched together during the first year of our marriage was the prime-time soap opera, Dallas. We’ve come a long way since then. Today, there’s no way we would waste our time on that type of show.
After I published last week’s article about the 60th anniversary of the Barbie doll, my mom called me on my cell phone. I wasn’t available when she called, so she left a message. In the message, she said that she had read my article and that in addition to her concern about her daughters’ self-images being affected by the Barbie doll, she was also concerned that with the introduction of a teenage, sexualized version of a doll, there would never be a return to the days when young girls were encouraged to play with baby dolls.