Celebration and Hope

December 29th, 2012 at 10:27 am by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

Whenever I saw a tall, thin guy today I thought I had spotted one of my college roommates, Paul. I met him on the first day of freshman orientation when all of us were enjoying, if not independence, then our first taste of living away from home. I was immediately impressed by his integrity, outgoing nature and sense of humor.

He became one of the brothers I never had.

Paul was one of my groomsmen and we always stayed in contact through the years. Later, he and his wife Laurie traveled to Mobile for the wedding of one of our daughters. We have been friends for decades.

It was no surprise then that he was on my mind, since I had just attended his funeral.

During the Christmas tornado in Mobile, I was already on my way to New Hampshire to attend Paul’s wake and funeral Mass which was celebrated by another of our college roommates, Father Bill.

Celebration is the proper term and it was especially appropriate in Paul’s case,. While his widow, daughters, son, Paul’s father and the rest of us grieved our loss, there was also plenty to celebrate. Paul had been married for 34 years. He had seven brothers and sisters. He loved the outdoors, having been an avid cyclist and cross country skier. Just months before his diagnosis, he participated in the world’s largest two-day rowing event called the Head of the Charles’ Regatta with a group of men appropriately named, The Good Guys. Oars occupied a place of honor at his wake.

After Paul learned he had cancer, he was expected to live 3 months; he lived for 11 months. The extra time gave him the chance to enjoy the love of his family and friends and especially his granddaughter, Molly.

The homily during his funeral Mass highlighted hope, a belief that buoyed Paul, his family and friends during the ups and downs of his illness.

Father Bill’s meditation read in part,

Optimism is the feeling that everything will work out for the best. Hope is something more. Hope is the desire that everything will work out for the best and the expectation that it will. Hope requires a plan; hope requires a story that explains why we should be optimistic. Hope is much more than a feeling. Hope is a virtue.

Paul Junior delivered a wonderful tribute to his father, who worked in manufacturing and had a lifelong habit of sending postcards. He concluded with what he expected his father would be writing now.

Dear Family,

Quite the Christmas celebration here. Lots of lights. Visited with my mother and Aunt Alice today, lots of family still to see.

Beautiful day here. The roads are smooth for riding, there is fresh snow on the skiing trails, and the river is always calm.

Meeting with the EPA today regarding the gilding process for halos. Fun!

Study. Be good. Drive safe. Behave yourselves. Do good for other people. Balance work, life, family, and fun. I miss you.

Love, Dad

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