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.”