On Saturday, July 25, 2020, my daughter Mary Rose married Tyler Smith at Saint Philomena Catholic Church. Earlier in the month, her mother, Georgette, and her sisters hosted a bridal shower for her. At the shower, Georgette gave Mary the same gift that she gave to each of our other daughters at their bridal showers: a personal letter that Mary read out loud for everyone to hear. Neither Georgette nor Mary knows that I’m doing this, but I thought that it would be worthwhile to share Georgette’s letter with the readers of my weekly Adoration Letter. Here’s what my wife wrote to our daughter:
Last week, I wrote about how the COVID-19 pandemic has created fear, doubt, uncertainty, and feelings of isolation and loneliness for many of the people of our country. I also wrote about Saint Thomas, the apostle who was told by his fellow apostles that they had seen the risen Lord. Upon hearing the claim that they had seen Jesus, Thomas said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” John 20:25. Thomas was later chastised by Jesus when He told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” John 20:29.
I’ve written before about how my wife and I raised seven children — one boy and six girls. An interesting thing happened with some of my children. When they turned 18, they got tired of me telling them what I thought they should be doing and declared that because they were 18, they were now adults who could make their own decisions. The first time I heard that proclamation, I laughed and asked what happened on their 18th birthday that transformed them into the type of person who no longer needed to listen to their parents. The response I got was, “I’m an adult now and I’m old enough to make my own decisions.”
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.