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11/04/2007

The Fighting Irish 

Seth: "What did he call me?"

Kerry: "He called you a 'jag,' honey. Don't take it too personally...it just means that you're on the bottom rung of his social ladder right now. He still tells me that I move like an 'old broad'...and I'm his granddaughter. He'll see you around a couple of times and you'll graduate to 'spider.'"

Sometimes newcomers require a Papa to English Dictionary.

Jag
noun
1. an ordinary stranger. Applicable to all forms of human life (men, women children, etc).

Usage: "Now who is this Jag?"

Spider
noun
1. a friend, acquaintance. Sometimes used by Papa as a term of endearment.

Usage: "Hey Spider, why don't you grab me a beer?"

Ace
noun
1. used sarcastically to describe someone who demonstrates less than extraordinary abilities to complete a given task.

Usage: "Nice parking job, Ace."

Whistle
noun
1. A shortened form of "Whistle-dick." Often used to describe friends who do silly things.

Usage: "Wait until I tell you what that Whistle did."

Steph
proper noun
1. My grandfather's attempt at remembering my husband's name (Seth) for our first 6 years together.

Usage: "What's his name? Steph? Yeah, that's what I said!"

...

Let me tell you all something about my grandfather...

Papa played a lot of basketball. He started at Leo High School in Chicago (the last Catholic National Champions), and got a scholarship to play ball out at Oregon State. Unfortunately, his father died while he was in Oregon, and Papa came back to Chicago without finishing school. Not quite sure of what to do next, he joined the Army. The Army decided that the best way that Papa could serve his country was by playing basketball...so that's just what he did...he did some country hopping and played a lot of exhibition games all around the world.

Now...

the passion for basketball may have trickled down to me...but the talent certainly didn't. I played from 5th grade on into most of high school, and I was terrible. There were a few seasons where I didn't score 1 point.

But nevertheless, Papa came and sat in the stands.

After every game he watched, his advice was always the same...

"You pass the ball too much! Take a shot! Do you think I got as far as I did by passing all day!?"

I know that anyone who met Papa would know that his advice for me in basketball could be used to describe his life. He never passed on anything...he always took a shot at it.

Just as an example...

He never passed on knowing new people. He talked to strangers and made new friends everywhere he went. He was absolutely magnetic. He took a shot to know everybody he ever came into contact with.

And he never passed on letting you know exactly how he felt about something. There were no subtleties and no filters. Papa took a shot and let you know his honest feelings.

Most importantly, Papa couldn't pass on having a great time. A good time followed him wherever he went. He took a shot to live every day as though it were some kind of a fabulous, never-ending party. He was the happiest guy in the room and his sunny outlook was contagious.


Papa passed away last night.


It was particularly difficult for me to type that last sentence. I find it almost impossible to recognize that such a passion and spark for life could be extinguished.

But if I could take one lesson from his life to practice and preach for the rest of my time on this planet...it would be this...

Never pass on a party.

...and while you're there...take a shot and get to know all of the Jags, Spiders, Aces, and Whistles that you possibly can. It'll help you carve out a superlative life.

I'll miss you, Papa. You showed me so much of how I want to live my life.

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