The Blarney Stone Award

I have decided that every year at the end of the awards season (The Golden Globes, The Oscars, The Grammy’s, etc.), I am 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.” 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 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.

Today, I am going to try and make a concerted effort to thank those special people in my life. This is easier said, than done though. I have a lot of people to thank for the polished and debonair individual that you have read about in the preceding pages. I have also screwed up along the road of life but unfortunately for me, the blame for those mistakes falls squarely upon my shoulders. But let me digress for a moment because I want to tell you about a person who will always be considered one of the “Most Influential People in My Life.”

My Aunt Renate has provided me with a lot of amazing encouragement and wisdom along the path that I have traveled. My life might have turned out differently if I did not have my Aunt around to keep me on the right trail. She has been the one person who has been involved in every decision I have made in my life and regardless of the outcome, she has always been there to remind me that the real success of my venture was in the attempt, not in the final results.

My Aunt Renate has always believed in me; even when she knew I wouldn’t succeed at the task at hand. I told her about my idea to pen a screenplay; she could have told me to focus on my education or she could have told me not to waste my time on such a fanciful endeavor. She should have told me to focus on job applications and completing my senior year of college, but she didn’t. She sat there for an hour and delved into the characters and the story that I had been creating in my mind. She wanted to know what the story was about and the underlying message of the tale and although she may have thought my idea was contrite or juvenile, she encouraged me to write the screenplay anyway.

My Aunt Renate always told me to believe that dreams could come true. She always said that life was comprised of a lot of little dreams that were strung together. My Aunt Renate taught me that my dream in life was not about whether or I achieved extreme success financially. She has always reminded me that my dream was to be a writer and that by writing, I was fulfilling my dream; I am a writer because I write.

I have found personal satisfaction in what I have written. I have found personal happiness and joy in having been able to create stories that take a small snapshot of the life that I have encountered and convey a message to the reader. I have taken pride in being able to unveil the finished product and know that I was satisfied, and truly, in the end, my satisfaction was all that mattered.

I was a spirited and misunderstood child but my Aunt Renate found the soul of the child that lived below the surface. She encouraged me to take chances and she persuaded me to believe in myself; especially when others didn’t. As a child, when I wrote, she never had a negative word to say about my writing. As dumb as my words were, as clueless as I was as a young child trying to fumble his way along the progression and meter of the written word, she was always positive and it always made me want to try again and to try harder.

Many years later, I sat in my Aunt Renate’s kitchen and told her about this woman I had met. I didn’t think the relationship would work out because this woman and I were in different places in our lives and we wanted different things out of life. I was the “party boy” and she was far from the “party girl.” And yet, no matter what excuse I tried to find for not making a relationship work, my Aunt Renate so eloquently and graciously kept telling me to listen to my heart and not to logical, rationale thoughts in my head. In between the lines of what she was telling me I was hearing her message loud and clear, “Look beyond the barriers of what is and what should be, believe in the reality that anything is possible and if you want it badly enough; you can make it happen.”

Every now and again, when I sit at the dinner table with my wife and children, I realize none of us would be here if it wasn’t for that honest conversation. Stephanie went back to school and I went to California and our relationship endured the time and space between our respective realities. And because of my Aunt Renate’s words of wisdom, I have a beautiful wife, beautiful children and a beautiful home.

Thank you, Aunt Renate, for taking the time to remind me about what was truly important in life. Words will never express the true gratitude I have in my heart for what you have done to help me navigate the world through my young life. But hopefully, as you watch my children grow, you will see those same lessons take root in their hearts and minds as well. Most importantly, Aunt Renate, thank you for being you and always being available to all of us in the family. You truly are blessed with words of wisdom. You have blessed the lives of everyone who has had the honor and privilege to know you simply by being able to call you friend, mom, and in my case, aunt.

I give the inaugural Blarney Stone award to you today as a thank you for everything you have done for me in my life but also for those intangible gifts that you have given to me that I will never be able to thank you for except by saying, “I love you and thank you for everything.”

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10 Responses to The Blarney Stone Award

  1. Marie says:

    What a beautiful story. I can just feel your emotions coming from your heart. You are lucky, but so is she to have a nephew who appreciates her and has your love in her life. Very eloquently put.
    Great job!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Angie says:

    Three cheers for Aunt Renate!

  3. Stephanie says:

    I think anyone who has met Aunt Renate would say she is definitely a special person. She it a true blessing in my life!

  4. Wolfgang and Ursula says:

    A wonderful story told from the heart. A rare occasion where one person is grateful and thankful for the attention and love he received while most people forget, neglect or do not appreciate such wonderful deeds. This story speaks for the writer. Good luck to you, Doug and Stephanie.

  5. Aunt Renate says:

    My dear Douglas,

    I am so honored and touched – you make me feel very special. I have to respond that the special person here is really YOU. Even as a child, may I add – a thoroughly delightful and lovable child – , your heartwarming smile and all those interesting, exciting ideas and dreams going on non-stop in your little head – how could I not listen and take all to heart! That holds true as you got older.

    Watching you grow up so wonderfully and taking on big responsibilities, you have handled the good that life brings your way as well as the hardships. You matured into an extraordinary young man, and I am so very proud of you in every way. So is your Uncle David, I am sure you know that. I always believed in you, you never disappointed me. Remember, YOU made all the final decisions not me. And yes, YOU picked that beautiful and lovely young lady – our sweet Stephanie – to become your wife. Now you both are raising such wonderful and special children. You could not be better parents, and I feel so lucky being able to watch them grow.

    As far as your writing is concerned, everyone who reads your stories should realize how very talented you are. Your stories are real, very entertaining, wonderfully written with such a great sense of humor and also with deep emotions. You may not have published anything – not yet – but you most certainly are a writer already who will be successful.

    I am truly blessed having you and your family in my life. I could not have a better nephew.

    I love you.

  6. Angela Polk says:

    Hi Doug,

    My grandmother and I used to sit on the porch of her home back in Terrell, Texas and we would watch the cars drive, one by one, toward the cemetery to bury the deceased. As we watched in amazement, we’d drank a glass of freshly-squeezed lemonade and converse casually. She would say, “Angie, I want my flowers while I am still alive; they’d do me no good when I’m gone!”

    Months after that talk, her children were gearing up for the customary and annual “Pastor and Wife Anniversary Celebration” at their church. My mother and her siblings wondered what to give their mother (my grandmother) who was the First Lady of the church. Not trying to delve too much in adult business, I took my mother aside and said, “Mama, flowers would be nice; she’ll be able to smell the love.” Thus, they showered her with flowers and other gifts. Sitting back in a corner, I saw tears flow from my grandmother’s eyes as she smelled a rainbow of colored roses. She was happy.

    Reading your story brought me back to this moment. You have an amazing talent for displaying things in your life that mirror things in my life. I am delighted to know that you have given such a prestige award to your Aunt (while she’s alive) and am gratified that you shared it with your readers. Thank you for you are truly one of a kind and your Aunt helped you be one in a million.

    Peace & Blessings!

    P. S. Your Aunt’s response brought tears to my eyes.

  7. Doug Veeder says:

    Angela,

    Your grandmother was a wise woman. Life has a way of passing us by before we say what we truly mean to those who mean the most to us.

    I like the statement, “I want my flowers while I am still alive…” it is such a poignant comment; short, succinct and to the point. We should all be so lucky to express our gratitude for those who are important to us.

    And, yes, reading my Aunt’s response only reinforces the conviction and love she has for everyone in our family. Plus, she illustrates (by her own hand) how great she is!

    Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    Have a great day,
    Doug

  8. Lynn says:

    Hi Doug,
    Renata told me about your blog and I am thrilled to have been able to read the story about Renata. She said that when we were kids, you and I most likely met in her kitchen. I was the little girl down the road whose mother was in the hospital and for years, Renata took me in and welcomed me like I was one of her own. Her actions spoke volumes that taught me unconditional love. Her daughters were like my sisters and it was clock work Renata describes, “Everyday after school, the doorbell would ring and there was Lynnie Pooh with those big blue eyes.” I am so grateful she opened the door and I had a place to go to otherwise… I’d be alone. Now I find the neighborhood kids are ringing our doorbells looking for a safe place to play. And it is Renata who is one of my pillars holding me to who I am today.
    Your story about Renata was beautiful. Anything written with Renata is going to be beautiful. I look forward to reading more of your blogs.

  9. Wendy says:

    Wendy

    Douglas – yes you’ll always be Douglas or Dougie to me. You are an extraordinary writer. I have not had the time to sit and read or comment on much of your material with work and health lately. I did want to make time today and am so amazed. I always knew you were going to do some amazing things once you finally came into the person I knew you’d be. It took you a while and thank God for Stephanie and her patience. She is the best (even though her nose might be a little…well different after the break) and most beautiful person in and out. It is through and with her that you have become the person you are. You have blossomed so much over the years.

    I love you guys and thank you for all you have given me and for the extraordinary words that sum up our Aunt.

    Love to all ~

  10. veed9 says:

    Doug,
    You have really captured the essence of what a wonderful person Renate is. We’re all so very lucky to have her in our lives. She enriches everyone’s spirit with her kindness,caring, and understanding.

    Love,
    Hadley

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