The holidays were full of excitement, joy and sadness for my family. The greatest gift during the holidays is the gift of being with your family — and now that I have grandkids this gift is even more special. A hug from your grandchild can give you hope and make everything else seem bearable.
However, we experienced some sadness during the holidays as my wife’s father passed away on Christmas Eve. He was 91 years old and lived a good, active life, but it is never easy to let a loved one go. A few hours before he died, all his kids, surviving brother and sister, and long-time friends got a chance to tell him that they loved him, either in person or on the telephone. It was amazing to see my wife’s dad respond to this outpouring of love. Family matters!
On Monday I joined a packed church to bid farewell to long-time friend Albert Riederer. Albert and his wife, Sandy, are the kind of people who simply are servant leaders. No matter how busy they are, they always found time to help others, especially those in need.
Albert was an excellent lawyer but he practiced law from the heart not just from the law books. Albert was a good listener who really cared about helping those less fortunate. Instead of flowers, Sandy has requested that memorial gifts be sent to the “Albert Fund” at the Bishop Sullivan Center to help the poor and the homeless. This final act of selflessness is so typical of how Albert lived his life: always trying to help others.
During 2012, I lost my mother, father-in-law, best friend from grade school, and many other friends like Albert who were role models to many of us.
And yet, while these losses are difficult, the hugs from my grandchildren somehow give me hope for the future. Family matters!