Monday, February 24, 2014

Some Big Shoes to Fill

There are many ways to measure success in life. Fame and/or money are two of the standard measures most commonly used in today’s society and I’ve often held both in disdain. 

Success, in my mind, has always meant being a good person, helping others, and showing plenty of love to those around you. So with that in mind, the most successful person I’ve ever met was also one of the most humble; a quiet man who’s actions truly showed who he was in his heart and soul. That man, I’m proud to say was my father, Ralph Cronin.

Without getting into details, I didn’t get to know my father until fairly recently. We had been learning a bit about each other, and by all marks, he seemed like a good guy. He’s got a great family, he worked hard, he volunteered in the community, and he took time off the be with family and loved ones. But there was more. More than I could have ever imagined. Read more...

Unfortunately, before I truly got to know him, he passed away. It was sudden and still a surprise. But now, I’m getting to know him from the stories of those whose lives he touched. And there were many. Many, many, many, and more. I shook hands or hugged thousands of people at my father’s wake. That’s no exaggeration. There were probably two thousand people there, people who waited in line for hours, all for the chance to come in, pay their respects, and to tell a story of how my father helped them. Every person there had a story, whether it was how he had helped them through some of the most difficult times in their lives, or simply made them laugh or smile with his amazing collection of ties (seriously, the man must have had 500—maybe 1000—ties, from Scooby Doo, to the Jetsons, to probably 50 of the wildest Christmas ties you can imagine—his ties alone are legendary). 

I talked to his friends, his co-workers, his morning YMCA group, his extended family, and, perhaps most important to him, people he helped through AA. He was a tireless inspiration, and the void that is left will be felt by many.

Probably every third person told me how much I look like my father. There’s no denying it. But, looks are one thing and actions are another. He set the bar high, and I’ll consider myself a success if I can do half of the good things he’s done. And what better way to honor him than to try?

Oh, and if you ever see me wearing a wild tie, please ask me about my father.

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