Happy Thanksgiving! This is one of my favorite times of the year because it reminds to reflect back on the past year and be grateful for all of the blessings I’ve been given. First on my list is always my family. With each passing year, we grow. Sometimes it’s a grandchild, a new grandniece or a grandnephew. Other times it’s a new family member because of an engagement or a marriage. Each time, we are all thrilled to be widening our circle. Around the holidays, it’s especially joyous. Thanksgiving and Christmas bring us together to eat, laugh and commemorate another year of being together. They are wonderful celebrations!
This year, however, there will be a few empty seats at the table. In March, we lost my beloved father-in-law, George. He was the epitome of a family man and enjoyed nothing more than being with his wife, kids, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. George had a gift for rocking babies to sleep with his low and quiet singing voice, and the kids all fell in love with him from the first moment he held each one. He was my mother-in-law’s rock, making sure that she was taken care of, even in the last days of his life. After fifty-nine years of marriage, she was still his “Jeannie” and the person with whom he wanted to be the most. My wife and her siblings will tell you that their dad was someone you could always count on. He’d sneak them and their friends beer in the garage, smooth things over with Jean if they were caught sneaking out, and be the first one to show up at their new house to help with painting, repairs or landscaping. My wife said that George surprised her when she bought her first house by spending the whole day landscaping the yard and revealing it when she got home from work. In his later years, George would travel with me down to Savannah for the annual Pirate Fest at Tybee Island. He’d get dressed up, including a fake parrot on his shoulder, and dance along with the bands at the beach. No one had more fun than he did!
In August, we also lost our beloved Aunt Gerry. She was my mother-in-law’s sister and, other than George, her best friend. Those two women loved being together more than any two siblings I’ve ever met. They would laugh and laugh about even the simplest things, but that’s because they enjoyed each other’s company so much that every time they were together, it was nothing but happiness. They’d band together (mostly Aunt Gerry) to tease their younger brother, Tim, which they had been doing from the moment he was born. Nobody laughed harder than he did when they reminisced about the tricks they’d played on him, as well as all the antics of Aunt Gerry in nearly every situation. She had a genuine love of life. Although she never had any children of her own, she always said how lucky she was to have been treated as a second mom to all five of Jean and George’s kids. Honestly, we were the lucky ones. “AG”, as we called her, spent most of her time reading or singing to every child in our family over three generations. She’d take everyone to the playground or berry-picking and truth be told, I think that Aunt Gerry was having more fun than the kids. We all adored her.
In addition to my family, I am so grateful for the many friends I have. From childhood friends to the new friends I continue to make along the way, I know that I am a lucky man. Each of these people hold a special place in my heart for a myriad of reasons, and I know that I can count on each one of them for laughter, kindness, and support at any given moment. They join me in my many adventures, but they also lift me up when I’m having a rough day. I know that I am truly blessed to have met so many wonderful people throughout my life, and I look forward to making many more friends in the future. And I am certainly so grateful for all of you. My good fortune doesn’t just include family and friends; it includes my job, too. I recognize that I am in the enviable position of having a job I love, which allows me to work with an outstanding staff and gives me an opportunity every day to make a positive difference in our community. Admittedly, there are days that bring unexpected challenges, but I always appreciate the patience, open-mindedness, and generosity from all of you when I need it the most. Throughout my tenure as your mayor, I have seen daily examples of people who share in my motto: “Believe in Broadview Heights”. There may be a few more speed bumps along the road, but I know that we share a common goal of living in a community that works together in a positive way. Together, we can get through anything. Thank you for being a part of the things for which I am most grateful this year. I wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving.