Part three of a three-part series
The most important footprints I have shadowed in my life were those of my family members. As one of 11 children, we did not enjoy the one-on-one attention that all children crave and need.
The simple fact was my dad worked from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at his day job as a building contractor and from 6 p.m. till midnight at his part time job as a bartender for the Knights of Columbus.
I was the third of 11 children so my mom was pregnant for all of my youth. My parents had more important things to do than attend my football games or speech contests. There were just too many of us and too much to do, which is why I committed never to let it happen to my own children.
My three sons are truly an inspirational footprint to me. Cory is a scientist by training and high school teacher and coach by profession. He inspires me by what he does for his students and players. Often kids I do not even know will come up to me at a football game and share with me how Cory was their encourager. Truth be known, he is a surrogate father to most of these kids much as my high school coach J.W. Ingram was to me.
Cory’s and his twin brother Jason are both educated as molecular microbiologists and each have a Master’s Degree. Jason is in dozens of countries around the world every year in his role as an inspector for the Food and Drug Administration. Their resolve is inspiring to all the lives they both touch, mostly to me.
Christopher is my youngest son who tracked in his mother and grandmother’s footprints as an Emergency Room Registered Nurse. For much of his career he has worked alongside Dr. Jessica Aun, Jason’s wife in the same Orlando ER. Watching these kids exceed my grandest expectations is my motivation in life. I wish I could be half the men they are.
My wife Christine is another person whose footprints inspire me and all the people’s lives she touches. When you march through life hand-in-hand and side-by- side with the person you love for nearly a half century, you not only get to know them but they also lift you when times are tough. No one can stay married that long and not have some ups and downs along the way. As my dear friend and speaking colleague W. Mitchell, CPAE says “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it.”
The most recent footprints I am privileged to witness belong to those of my grandchildren Ashley, Ava, Cameron and Keenan. Ashley is the oldest and almost a surrogate mother and teacher to younger sister Ava. Unselfish, generous, kind, thoughtful, considerate… all attributes she can trace back to Christine.
Ava is the wild card that is sneaky smart and clever. Both she and her sister Ashley are voracious readers. Ava always wants to know the “why” behind every closed door and is not the least bit afraid to break it down for a look-see.
My youngest grandchildren are Keenan and Cameron, twins who belong to my third son Christopher. Yogi and Spike are the nicknames I’ve given them. Like their twin uncles Cory and Jason, there isn’t anything that they don’t want to try.
They may be twins in appearance but you could not find two more independent spirits. A Sunday afternoon tradition is they come and invade our house or the pool, determined to open every drawer and play with anything they can get their mitts on.
I am inspired by my progeny because they are clearly better human beings than I could ever hope to be. All are enthused and encouraged by and for each other. There are no sibling rivalries, only cousins who love cousins. The dazzling virtuoso embraced by Ashley and Ava are matched only by the inquisitive minds of Yogi and Spike.
These were and are the footprints in my life. Have you ever identified yours? If for no other reason, do it to pay homage to the people who made them.
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Michael Aun is a syndicated columnist and writes a weekly column for this newspaper. To contact Michael Aun, email him at email@example.com.