I believe that soldiers, police, and fireman are today’s warriors. They fight for their lives and our freedoms. This is a rare exception when I feel someone has earned the title of warrior. In sports, we continue refer to athletes at warriors when the reality is that so very very few truly are even in that ballpark.
The past week a good friend whom I grew up and played football with lost his father a few days shy of his 60th birthday. I was fortunate to have know Mr. Lavery for many years. He umpired many of my baseball games from Pony League through Legion. I became an umpire myself (through his prompting) and had the opportunity to work him. He took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. Umpiring Legion Ball at a young age was a hand full, Lav helped me out and the coaches gave me more respect because of him.
Mr. Lav was as old school as they come. I say that wishing my generation had even a touch of “old school” in them. This was a man who truly put family and friends first. A man who asked how you and your family were before he talked about the Steelers or another sports topic.
A rare disease took his life. It was suppose to have taken his life 7-7 1/2 years ago when the doctors told him that he didn’t have very long to live. Like a true Irishman, like a real hard headed tough ass Pittsburgher he refused to allow the disease to get the best of him. Through transplants and constant visits to the hospital Mr. Lav “took the gloves off” and battled for 8 years. Not to bad for a guy who was only given a few months.
As his son Greg said at the conclusion of the mass, “My dad wasn’t mad that he got sick, he was mad that the sickness prevented him from being a provider to his family.” There’s not much more to say is there?
I hope to have earned that kind of love and respect before my friends have to put their suites on or as Mr. Lav once said “Coump it’s time to get your suite cleaned”.
I have been to 25+ funerals in my day. This was one of the most touching but saddest I have experienced.
As his body was carried out of beautiful church in Greenfield, the crowd dispersed silently as a bagpiper “played outlawed tunes on outlawed pipes” -a true warriors credo….
For me, this comes to mind as I walked away from the mass unable to speak…