My Mother was my first teacher in how to give thanks. She could be described as a simple woman, one who accomplished little that the world would ever note. But she was a fine mother, wife, and grandmother. She, with my Dad, raised her brood of five children, gave us love, taught us to love, and in the end, taught us to be grateful. She touched the lives of her immediate family and her extended family. She helped her alcoholic twin brothers, Dick and Don, fed them, gave them shelter in our little house; offered hospitality to her alcoholic brother-in-law Jack, gave him food and shelter in our little house; gave friendship, companionship to our mentally ill neighbor, MZ; helped raise my brother's three boys; loved and nurtured her 17 grandchildren.
When she passed away, so peacefully back in 2003, with her entire family around her, her last words and gestures were full of gratitude. I hope I can continue to learn gratitude from her. I think it's one of the toughest virtues.
Without trying to make a comprehensive list, I want to express my deepest gratitude for my parents, my family (including cousins, aunts, uncles, and shirt-tail cousins), my sister Mary Ellen, my brothers, Denny, Kevin, and Jim, my wife Linda, my children, Julia, Carolan, and Emily (and their spouses, Eddy and Brian, and Carolan's friend Jeremy), and my two grandboys, Colin and Robby.
I want to express gratitude for my friends, especially my newer friends at the Karpos ministry for the hungry and homeless at St. Mary's Church in Painesville. They are so much fun and so dedicated. Thanks for my college friends, especially those from Notre Dame and the Innsbruck Program; for my dear friends at Lakeland; for my friends in various organizations who battle injustice so fearlessly; for my Cincinnati friends, again, so fearless. They have all taught me faith, hope, and love.
You don't have to be a priest to bless people, so . . .
Dear friends, I bless you, as you have blessed me. And I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, the deepest well of my being!