Here it was the morning of the Fourth of July and I decided to write to you much earlier in the week then I normally would. Later in the day we would celebrate the Fourth with great honor and pride in our home. I doubt the men and woman who gave us this gift by fighting for our freedom had any idea that we would be celebrating across our great country centuries later because of the sacrifices they made.
So often those we love and remember have no idea of the legacy the memories that they have left behind for us.
When Mackensie was maybe 8 years old, my mom Pearl took an old planter that I wanted to throw away, by our garden, and she planted one of those small back then 99-cent seed packets. I remember thinking “what a mess” at the time, and “Mom, just let me throw that darn paint-peeling-off-it pot away." She ignored me, as we often did with each other at the time, grabbed a couple gardening tools and she and Mackensie walked to the old pot by our shed.
I remember that moment in time, like it was happening right now, watching her show and let Mackensie plant a handful of seeds in the old dirt that still remained in the pot. In my mind I was thinking cute, but again what a mess, and that will never grow anything. John will be throwing it away in a few months.
Well, here it is over 10 years later, my mom is gone, but every early July, with no effort on our part, that pot grows the most beautiful tall yellow lilies like you have never seen. I just walked by them now. My mom had no idea that she left that beautiful memory for us behind, but she did. I might have to take a picture to show you.
Last Saturday John and I were honored to attend the funeral Mass of a great man, John Carbone. The four of us often found ourselves sitting next to each other at Sabatino’s through the years and a lovely friendship was formed. So wish we could do it one more time. My John so admired John because he would describe him as a humble hero. We knew he had served our country on the front lines of Vietnam, saw things I pray we never will, and yet he was always grateful to be, loved his family with all his heart, adored his wife, Pat, and truly cherished his time spent with others.
He had the best stories, and John was the avid reader that I have always hoped to someday be. It makes me teary to describe it to you here still. At the end of John’s memorial Mass, they asked everyone who had served our country to stand so that they could be recognized. What a beautiful sight. Next, The Vietnam Veterans of America that had served with him in Vietnam shared memories of how he had helped so many. It was just how he lived his life… He always put others first.
They told us how in Vietnam, John was the person you could always count on, both on the battlefield and in life. Then Melvin, who served side by side with John, told us this story: Melvin explained to us that each year the Vietnam Veterans of America would have a booth at the Deerfield Fair to help raise awareness and support for veterans. John had been very sick, and he had told them this year he just couldn’t be there to help. Well that day, Melvin called John and told him many people had dropped out and they needed his help. John reminded him he wasn’t feeling well, but he said he would come help out for a couple hours. Well about six hours later, only because Melvin told him, John finally headed home. No matter how sick he was, he was always there to offer his time, because again he always put others first. John probably never would have guessed he left that beautiful story behind for all of us to lock in our hearts forever.
Last week, we attended the changing of the gavel of our Londonderry Rotary Club, held at our own LaCarreta. Let’s face it, sometimes it is hard to get ourselves to these events, especially after a long day. I even whine at times about going, but I'm always so glad I did. The warmth, love and memories that will be left behind took my breath away. Mike Dolan was passing his president’s gavel from his year of serving to Terry McCormick, who would be taking over for the next year.
Somehow in his final speech as president, he found a way to include precious memories of everyone in the room. The smallest things that I know none of us would have guessed were memories or moments Mike had taken in about all of us. He didn’t miss one person in the room. How did he do that? He made us smile, laugh, and remember all those little things that keep all of the Rotarians across the world coming back to serve week after week.
I so wish I had recorded his words, because they were so much better than I’m writing to you now from memory, but he shared the reason for these wonderful groups. To serve others, and to put others above ourselves. Beautifully put, “Service Above Self”. To simply do good, be good, to be kind, to serve others. To look outside of ourselves, and be present with everything that is going on around us. To jump in, make a humble difference, to leave this world better then you found it. The legacy you leave or what you leave behind.
If you are looking for a way to get even just a little more involved in our world right here, I might have the perfect place for you to get started. It will include meeting new people from our area, delicious food from local restaurants, and getting to know all about how our local communities run. What all the good people behind the scenes do, as my John would say, to make sure our five biggest needs are met as citizens of local communities. Our children are safe at our schools, our roads are plowed, fire and police respond when needed, garbage is picked up on time, and so much more.
Leadership Londonderry is back. For more information and an application head to our town website. I promise you that after this program you will know how our towns run, why we do certain things, and who the people are that make it all happen. Knowledge is power, and when you toss in a tour of our area, our town hall, food and fun too you just can’t lose. Hey, you can just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my cell anytime for more information (603) 512-5596. One Sherry’s “Not So Famous” Chocolate Chip Banana Bread for everyone who signs up!
A shout out and hug to…. Cecilia Menard of Londonderry who left me with a beautiful memory this weekend at her granddaughter Meghan Menard’s wedding to Joe Fahey. Congratulations and love to the new Mr. and Mrs. Fahey and Cecilia.