This month was very special and very difficult at the same time. We said goodbye to our patriarch, Thomas ‘Tucker’ O’Connell. After 91 years, his body was tired, his mind gave all it had, and he missed mom more than life. But it wasn’t until after the funeral and seeing the wonderful tribute, that I realized how blessed I was to have him as my mentor, leader, and inspiration, but more importantly as my dad and friend. From early in life, he was always there to support me and make sure I had everything to succeed. When I was a paperboy in Hudson, he would go on the route and deliver with me, even the Sunday paper which we’d deliver at midnight! He drove me around when I sold school magazines or treats. Only when work called did he ever miss one of my baseball games. He simply dropped whatever he was doing to make sure I was taken care of. His love was unconditional. If I heard it once at dad’s visitation and funeral, I heard it 100 times, “You have big shoes to fill. It’s up to you.” Please know this, not only am I up for the task, but I’ve been studying for this moment for years. You see, I was blessed to be raised by the parents I have. Of course, being in a family business wasn’t always easy or peachy, it certainly has its moments. But through it all, it creates an incredible bond.
What my parents excelled at was making others feel important, like you were the only person in the world. And in a world full of conflicts and tight schedules, that’s not very easy. My parents loved others, and did everything they could to make your day better. Bringing joy to others was their reward. Community Foundations, Chamber of Commerce, County Board, Police and Fire Commision, Rotary, Elks, and Knights of Columbus were just a few of the civic organizations they so thoroughly enjoyed. It gave them a platform to be with others.The beauty of my dad, and parents, is that they never believed they were any better than anyone else. Dad had a humble, gentle approach to his friends, but more importantly to the stranger he never knew. It never ceased to amaze me how many people asked for dad after a death claiming, “I am a personal friend of Tom O’Connell”, when in fact, they had met only once before. But that’s how he made you feel, special. I’ve been blessed in working side by side with a man that, to me, was bigger than life itself. But I’ve been paying careful attention to the art of making others feel special! Trust me.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for being a blessing to us and for the privilege of caring for your loved ones! You see, we still have open wounds from Dan’s tragic death. By allowing us to walk with you in your grief, you’re giving us a gift in healing and remembrance of Dan by helping YOU. For that, we will be forever grateful. So with all of this in mind, I, we, will continue Dan’s, my mom’s, and especially my dad’s legacy to walk with you in your darkest hours, sharing in your grief. And we will do so with Tom’s touch!!