Lessons Learned from the Living of Life

Some of life's greatest lessons do not come from organized classroom learning sessions. Neither are they to be found in a research paper within a technical journal or a textbook from your personal library. They come from the living of life. And...

There is also a lesson here for all of us. I learned that a man who takes the time to lose 40 pounds and swim more than a half-mile in the pool three times a week can regain some of his youthful (ha, ha, ha) vigor. Let me assure you that it is my intention to continue along the path of fitness that I embarked upon back in early September of last year. The fire company fitness center will open in July and I have my eye on a treadmill and an elliptical machine to move me to the next level. Stay tuned my friends. 
Oh, I also learned that even though I have lost over 40 pounds now, I still am fat. That is a simple fact of life for me. It is my guess that I shall always be some form of fat as long as I live. But it sure is neat to say that I am not as fat. It is also neat to march down the Main Street of your hometown once again. Let me also share with you the fact that one of the world's top musicians was a spectator on May 30th. Bruce Springsteen was on the streets of his hometown sharing his love for the Borough of Freehold with the rest of us.
However, it was the weekend of June 4-5, 2011 that proved to be a truly special period of time for our whole family. It was on Saturday June 4 that my son Todd was ordained a Priest in the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey during a wonderful service steeped in tradition and accompanied by fine brass and choir music. The following day he performed his First Mass at his home church, St. Catherine's in Port Monmouth, New Jersey. It is truly great to see your child become a respected member of an important part of the fabric of our nation.
From my son I learned the lessons of patience and persistence. His ordination was the culmination of ten years of post-high school education. He earned a math degree at the College of New Jersey (Trenton State for my fellow old-timers). He then went on to earn a pair of master's degrees from the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in the Diocese of Philadelphia. Both degrees were earned with honors. 
In addition, Todd also battled his way through a serious medical condition last November. He began to suffer from severe headaches and double vision. He was diagnosed as having a cerebral-spinal fluid leak in his brain. He spent a period of time in the hospital and after a period of hospitalization and home convalescence, he returned to the seminary in early December. Todd faced every day with a smile and a prayer. He was truly a model of fortitude and perseverance to us all.
However, it was toward the end of his First Mass on Sunday when he showed to his mother and me that he was a man of gratitude and appreciation. As he was thanking the various people who assisted him in conducting the service, he turned to his mother and me.  In a solid voice he thanked us for the way we had raised him and for all of the support we had given to him over the years. Talk about a magic moment. 
Let me suggest that it is a rare time in a man's life when he can know with a high degree of certainty that he has raised a fine son. It is extremely gratifying for me to see him assume a position of great responsibility within the Catholic Church. People will depend upon him for spiritual support and religious education. Further, it was great for my wife and I to hear him praised and supported by the members of his home parish. 
Let me add that I learned the lesson of love, loyalty, and support from my many friends who shared this special time with me. My best buddy, Jack Peltier and his wife Sue came down from Massachusetts to share their love and support with my family and me. They have been there for me during the good times and bad alike over the past 35 years. That is just the way it is for true friends. 
Pastor Scott Brown from the Colts Neck Reformed Church and our Associate Pastor Chris Van DeBunte and his wife Ellen came out to support us in Trenton. In addition, Ellen's parents Reed and Nancy Feuster made the journey to be with us. This is particularly noteworthy, since it was Nancy who was Todd's nursery school teacher back at the Hope Lutheran Church Christian School back in the mid-1980's. 
Chris Pujat, his wife Donna, and their daughter Christine, came out to share in this happy event. They were joined by Donna's mom Phyllis Ward and our church-going friend Marge Wilson. These are really long standing friends from the fire company. Heck, Donna was the Carter Family babysitter for Kathleen, Todd, and Ellen for many years.