When our 25 year old son, Alex, broke the news to Penny and me that he was going in The Peace Corps we were stunned to say the least. We are a close knit family and the idea of our oldest son going to Africa for 27 months was a gut check. He went to James Madison but was home for the weekends at least once or twice a month. Plus we could go visit him anytime for lunch. He then went to Arlington and worked for the AmeriCorps for the last year, but same thing, we saw him almost every weekend. But yesterday, after 17 hours on the plane, he landed in Zambia (see picture below, Alex is the one right under the lion’s nose). So Penny and I, as well as Alex’s brother and sister, Drew (22), and Emma (20), have to deal with not seeing Alex for at least the next 15 months (Alex is scheduled to come home for a week next September to be in one of his best friend’s wedding, Joe Cady. Thank you Joe for getting married and having Alex in your wedding!) So how do we deal with it?
Obviously, we will all miss Alex dearly. We all have our special bond with Alex and not being able to spend time with him is going to be hard. Not having him at the UVA basketball games with us, not being able to play golf together, or just not being able to hang out together will be tough. But for me, the way I get through it is to stop and think about what an amazing young man he is. As one of my golfing buddies said to me, he is doing god’s work. How true. Not many people give up 27 months of their life to help the less privileged. Most won’t give up 5 minutes. So the best way I can put it is that Alex makes you want to be a better person. Every time I tear up and start missing him I just have to say, “stop thinking about myself!” There are people dying, starving, and struggling to get through the day and it is people like Alex that make this world a better place.
I will pray that Alex stays safe and has an amazing time in Zambia. I also know that he will change lives there along with all the other amazing people in the photo above. But most of all Penny and I are just proud and honored that Alex is our son.
Photo: Alex at age 6 with Emma and Drew
This past Thursday, my Dad, David Mahone, passed away. He was 87. My wife, Penny, and our 3 children, Alex, Drew, and Emma all said good bye to Dad on Christmas Day. We were going on a week long vacation and as we left his room Penny said it might be the last time we would see him. She was right. He was a wonderful man and I loved him so much. I told him on Christmas that I loved him but I didn’t get the opportunity to tell him everything I wanted. So I’ll tell him now because I know he’s reading this along with you.
First, you were my inspiration and role model. From the first day I can remember you always had the utmost confidence in me. You made me feel special and I always felt I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to. I felt that way because of the faith you had in me.
You always loved me no matter what and not only did you show it, you also said it.
You never missed one high school tennis, basketball or football game I ever played in. I could always depend on looking up and seeing you there. That meant the world to me.
You loved Penny like a daughter. I’ll never forget my wedding day driving to the church with you and mom. I ask you why you had such a big smile on your face and you said it was because I was marrying a wonderful person. I’ll always remember how special that made me feel.
I also want to thank you for being such a loving grandfather. I remember when I was little and I would run and jump into your lap and sit with you for hours. To see you do the same thing with my kids brought such a huge smile to my face.
I will miss so much being able to talk to you about my golf. No matter how I played, you wanted to know every detail. Win or lose you were always there, either on the bag caddying or waiting on the 18th green. In the last few years when you couldn’t make it to the course you were always the first person I would call.
Most of all I want to thank you for being such a wonderful loving person. I try every day to live like you. To love Penny the way you loved mom and to love my kids the way you loved all of us.
I miss you dad. But you are with me and I’m so lucky that you are my dad. I love you and I’ll see you again in heaven one day.
A week ago today my father-in-law passed away. Big Joe (Joe Palumbo) got his nickname after his first grandchild, Joey, was born. At least I never remember him being called Big Joe until his namesake was born. When I first met Big Joe (Mr. Palumbo at that time) I was 14. Penny and I had been seeing each other for a week or so and it was time to meet her father. When I told my dad I was going to meet Mr. Palumbo he asked me if I knew who he was. I had no idea other than Penny’s father. He told me he was the best football player to ever play at UVA and that on the football field he was the meanest man he’d ever seen. Needless to say I was a bit nervous but he couldn’t have been nicer. I never imagined at that time 36 years ago that Big Joe would become my father-in-law and that I would grow to love and respect Big Joe that way I do today.
I wasn’t going to write about Big Joe until I woke up this morning and realized I needed to. I needed to for me. When he passed away last Thursday night it was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. Joe had his wife, Sandy, and his daughters, Penny and Page, by his side with his 6 grandchildren. He passed away and for the next 15 minutes we all just sat there and told stories. I mentioned that I hoped I’d be that lucky one day. To live the life he lived and to have your family with you by your side when you go. And to have love that deep. What more could you ask?
Joe’s passing has inspired me. It’s inspired me to be a better person, a better husband, a better father, and to hopefully one day be a great and loving grandfather. Although Joe is gone his spirit is with all that he has touched. I can see it in my children. Drew has his drive and tenacity, Alex has his warmness and generosity, and Emma has his smile and lovingness.
We are all only here a short time and when all is said and done the real question is what impact will we leave? Are we being the best we can be ever day? Do we tell our love ones how much we love them every day? Do we give to the ones that have less than we do? Do we live every day like it’s our last? No one does all these things every day. But Big Joe came close. I’ve learned a lot from you Big Joe. I love you and will miss you.