Recently my brother Tommy’s illness, death and funeral led me to reflect on my family. We are bonded and stick together like glue in times of crisis and in times of joy. Families are always amazing, albeit imperfect, in forming the future of our society and world.
We were a big family, five girls and five boys. So, with Mom and Dad we made a household of 12. Being the youngest of the bunch, I learned a lot from my siblings.
They say I was spoiled, but they taught me lots, from how to wash dishes and how to clean up and make my bed. We were an organized family. Everyone had a part to play and we learned to accept each other’s different personalities and gifts to keep the family together.
As I reflected, I realized the things I learned from my parents and from my brothers and sisters. From little things to more important responsibilities, we progressed in family life. We had our rules and parts to play in the house. Praying at mealtime, sharing the food and waiting for Mom before we began to eat. Prayer at bedtime, Sunday Mass together, homework before play and so forth. As a family we were all different and yet we pulled together in every way possible. That is why there is such a bond of love that still holds us together now that we are all on Medicare.
My brother Tommy, who just passed away, was six years older than me. He taught me about radios and repairing lamps and important stuff like that. I learned how to solder, test vacuum tubes—remember those?—and use tools properly. He helped the neighborhood kids in the construction of a log cabin in Mt. Airy Forest near our backyard. He taught me how to tune up the engine on his old Studebaker before he taught me to drive.
I believe that the greatest blessing I have received in my life is the gift of family. In retrospect, my family was a great training ground for life in a religious community, or for being the father of a big family of my own if God led me that way.
During this Thanksgiving season, I am reminded that the family is really the fundamental unit, the building block of society. Give some thought to your family and how God is present within our families.