In 2008, I decided that, at the end of the awards season (The Golden Globes, The Oscars, The Grammy’s, etc.), I was going to give out a single award here at Irishman For Hire called the Blarney Stone Award. The Blarney Stone is a block of bluestone atop the Blarney Castle in Ireland and it is widely believed that anyone who kisses the Blarney Stone (different link) will be endowed with the “gift of gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery).”
The criteria for the Blarney Stone award is simple, “Thank those who have had an impact on my life before it’s too late to express the gratitude that I have for them.” I cannot guarantee that the recipient will become eloquent or a great speaker but the fact of the matter is that it was the eloquence of their actions that has spoken volumes to me in my life. We always intend to tell those important people in our lives what they have meant to us but more often than not, we never get the chance to say to our friends and family members what we truly feel in our hearts until it is too late.
This year, the Blarney Stone Award is being given to my friend Angie. I can hardly believe that I have only known Angie for eight years because in that time, she has gone from being a good friend to being a great sister who is an integral part of our family.
I met Angie shortly after Stephanie hired her. They were collecting boxes upon boxes of donations for their Head Start kids during the holiday season. So when I brought Stephanie some lunch, she introduced me to many of her staff members. Seven months later, divine intervention sent Angie and Stephanie to Dallas for a professional conference. It was supposed to be a week long conference about new strategies for social workers in the new millennium, but what it actually turned out to be was the birth of a lifelong friendship.
I began to truly get to know Angie in the summer of 2004. Stephanie’s mom, Kathy, had been diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer and as the added responsibilities to our daily lives began to pile up; God sent us a friend who was there to support our family day in and day out. She watched our children from time-to time when Stephanie needed to take Kathy to doctor’s appointments, she visited Kathy just to shoot the breeze but most of all, she became a great friend and confidante for Stephanie when those rough days of watching a loved one live through a horrible disease wore us all down.
Stephanie and Angie developed a close bond. Like separated sisters at birth who had been reunited, Angie became an interwoven part of our lives. When Stephanie was pregnant with our second child, she saw the signs of premature labor because our son Josh had been a “preemie” a few year earlier. After a quick trip to visit the doctor, Stephanie was admitted to the hospital where she was placed in an inverted position on a hospital bed. They actually put her in a bed upside down in an attempt to use gravity to keep Chloe from being delivered too early.
Angie visited Stephanie just about every day that week to see how she was doing and to offer a friendly face amid a sea of medical personnel. They laughed, talked, and I think they probably made fun of me because “I had done this to Stephanie yet again.” And then when Angie was done visiting Stephanie, many nights she would come to the house to look after Josh so I could go to the hospital and visit my wife as well. I found out later, that Angie also stopped in to check on Kathy to make sure things were okay while Stephanie was out of commission.
It is why it wasn’t a difficult decision for Stephanie and me when we asked Angie to be one of Chloe’s godmothers. Angie graciously accepted and has been involved in every aspect of Chloe’s life ever since. From small moments like ice cream at Nona’s, a day at the Pineapple House, to the bigger moments like pre-school graduations, school plays, family vacations and holidays; Angie made time to be there for all of them.
Every Christmas morning, Angie would wake up early, climb into her car and come to our house before the kids woke up so she could spend Christmas with Josh and Chloe. She always made sure she had a special present selected for each of the kids and she made sure she was present to share in the magic of Christmas with them. One of our favorite Christmas memories was when we were able to turn the tables and give Angie a plane ticket to join us in Disney World for a family vacation.
As many of you know, we moved seven hundred miles south last summer. That didn’t deter Angie one bit. She spent Christmas morning with our family via Skype because she refused to miss spending time with our family at the holidays.
Angie was there when I competed in the American Idol experience in Disney World. She spent every Halloween with the kids as they trick-or-treated around the neighborhood. And she came to the house to help Stephanie make birthday presents for the kids or to help make the decorations for their parties. She has always been there to celebrate the big and little moments for both of our kids. And her infectious laughter along with her whimsical creativity has always led her to lead Josh and Chloe on some of their greatest adventures. And when we needed to just hang out on the porch and watch another day pass into night, we couldn’t find a better friend to laugh with us as the troubles of the world just melted away.
Our family has been blessed to have Angie in our lives for so many reasons. But I will never forget how she was always there to help when Kathy’s battle with cancer wound down in the summer of 2008. Angie spent time visiting with Kathy as well as our entire family. She made sure that all of us were propped up through the long days and nights. And whenever we weren’t, she was there with a big hug, a friendly smile or wonderful words of support. Very few family members were there for Kathy during her battle but Angie always was. And it always brightened Kathy’s day when Angie came to visit.
I remember when Stephanie and I were having a conversation with Kathy one night before she passed away and she told us that Angie “was an angel sent from heaven.” No truer words have ever been spoken. God knew what our family was about to go through back in the early part of the decade, so he sent a wonderful person who has meant so much to our family to help us overcome every obstacle that stood in our way.
In giving the 2011 Blarney Stone Award, I want to thank Angie for being a wonderful, heaven sent addition to our family. Your love, support and friendship has touched our lives as well as the lives of the people who have had the honor to call you friend, sister, wife, daughter, best friend, auntie and Godmother! You have touched the hearts and lives of so many people and you have become an inspiring force in the lives of everyone who knows you.
Thank you for being such a great friend and sister to Stephanie. Thank you for always being there for Joshua, Chloe and Kathy. You will never know the heartfelt blessing you have been for our entire family. Thank you.