“What’s Important to Me”
As I sit here today and try to find words to fill this paper, I find that I am drawing a blank. I could probably come up with something concerning politics or gun rights to fill the page, but the reality is that I am burnt out on those topics. I’m tired of reading about them, hearing about them and seeing my social media flooded with them. So today I am going to write about family, and death.
You see my father in law Kevin O’Leary died a couple of weeks ago and frankly it was my first experience with losing someone that was so close to me. It has made me really reflect on a lot of things including the things that are important to me and most importantly to my family.
Kevin was married to the same woman for 51 years, worked for the same company for almost 40, working his way from an apprentice to the General Manager of the machine shop in that time. Paid his house off and lived in it for 35 years…. he also died in that home after the family brought him home from the hospital to begin hospice.
Dad, as I called him because he never said I couldn’t, was the kind of guy that led the way and didn’t know he was leading. He led by example. Now I never had any real male leadership role models in my life as a kid and even as a younger man but when I married my wife Shannon that all changed. Kevin stepped into that role and he never even knew it. He was without a doubt the most positive example of a man that I have ever had in my life for any extended period of time.
I was able to watch how Kevin loved and treated his wife Diane, I was able to see how his eyes lit up with pride when he talked about his children Sean and Shannon, I watched at how patient he was with my son Koa when they played chess or baked cookies or worked on things together. I watched as he would help Diane in the kitchen with dishes or cooking and I would think why in the world….and then I realized….it was his love and respect for her. He taught me to treat your wife like a Queen, and I like to think that I do and that I learned it from watching him. I watched how he really never reacted to things in a negative way; there really were “no big deals” to him. Dad and I talked quite a bit, usually me asking for advice on some idea I had about investments or working on something mechanical…. I would sometimes call him to get his input on things and you know what occurred to me? He never once told me what I SHOULD do, he always told me what he WOULD do; I always respected that about him. He was the guy that everyone in the room wanted to be like and be near.
I remember one day early into Shannon and I being married we were all in Vegas (I think) and as we were parting ways I gave Kevin a hug….I found out that day that Kevin was not a “hugger” it was almost comical to see his reaction to it. I never tried to hug him again and that was OK, but I can tell you that I kissed him on the forehead in his last hours and I’m thankful for that. Even in his last hours here with us Dad taught me the importance of being surrounded by family and love and that’s one of the many lessons that he taught me without even knowing he was doing it. In death he was the same leader…he wanted to die at home, and he made that decision clear that day at the hospital when we brought him home. The peace that I saw in his eyes when he got home was evident and clear, he knew where he was, and it was going to be OK now.
In the last couple of weeks since his passing I have spent time reflecting on what is really important in life and it occurs to me that once again it always comes back to family.
Family is the very core of everything our great country has been built on and all too often I think that some of us forget that and get wrapped up in the hustle of living life in a world filled with sound bites and flashing lights and shiny things. I am always amazed at the lessons that appear to me even when I am not looking at them, they appear. The lesson that I am taking away from watching a great man die is that there really are no big deals as long as you’re surrounded by family.
I am so thankful for mine and I’m going to miss (my father in law) “Dad”, Kevin O’Leary of Jackson Michigan. I am truly a better man for having been touched by him…….
Keith Lefebvre from Oconto Falls, Wisconsin has been a RidersUSA member since 2007. He is a Father, Husband, Mentor to youth and men, a Student of life, Speaker of truth, and a Lover of Liberty. Keith is a US Air Force Veteran and a NRA Certified Shooting Instructor. He rides a 1977 Electra Glide and a 120 horse 2001 Electra Glide