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Friday, March 23, 2012

Fountain of Youth

Today's Quote at Relax Consulting comes from the lovely Sophia Loren. If you haven't visited our site ( ) to catch the quote of the day, here it is: "There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will have truly defeated age."

Tomorrow marks the 18 year anniversary of when my father passed away. March 24, 1994 was one of the most painful days of my life and at the age of 16, it was the most painful event I had to endure to date in my lifetime. This quote reminds me of my father's life, which makes it easier to acknowledge the day of his death. Andre Casavant was an amazing man in my eyes, and many who knew him would agree. I wouldn't go so far as to say that he was perfect, although at 16, I sure thought so. He really did find the illusive fountain of youth, because of the things that he left behind. His mind, his talents, and his creativity - the way he touched the lives of is these things, his legacy, that transcends all space and time.

Andre was a man who was born into poverty to a family of hard working immigrants. He was one of six children being raised during the heart of the great depression. Neither of his parents were educated or spoke much English at all. His family struggled with illness from the moment Andre was born. He was always sickly and much of the family's resources (when they had them) were spent trying to keep little Andre alive. By the time he was in high school, his father and two of his siblings had passed away. His mother died shortly thereafter. The two oldest sons went off to fight in WWII leaving Andre and his little sister to fend for themselves.

Andre and his sister were determined to make the best of a touch situation. They each had a job (sometimes two of them) and they managed to afford modest housing and both continued in school and made it to graduation. After graduation, Andre secured himself a job at a local factory where he worked tireless until a few weeks before he died. He worked overtime when it was available, was laid off with the rest of the union at times, and he called in sick only a handful of times in his very lengthy career. This was particularly unusual considering that he was chronically ill with a lung condition (1/2 of each of his lungs were removed - and NO, he never smokes) and was diagnosed with cancer in the late 80's.

Andre's body has been gone from this earth for far too long, but his legacy lives on. He never had it easy, but he always smiled and one would have thought that he had millions in the bank. He looked forward to every morning, every bird at the bird feeder, and every star in the evening sky. He was a man who took nothing for granted. He said "the world owes you nothing punkin, it's your job to work hard". He talked about the importance of a good work ethic, but he also led by example and showed me that no matter how tough you feel, you get out of bed and get to work - "there are people counting on me" is what he would say as he grabbed his lunchbox and his coffee and headed out the door before the sun had even come up each day.

He taught me to love unconditionally and how to trust people. He said "the world may think trust is earned, but I trust people until they give me a reason not to". He also taught me to never go to bed mad, and I grew up in a home where you respected people, possessions, and nature. A kiss and a hug were mandatory before leaving the house and every time you come home, you better be ready to show your family how much you love them with your words, your body language, and your smile. Andre was also the kind of man who made sure the bird feeders were full and that even the smallest most fragile animals were nurtured. He was patient and kind and would sit for hours rattling a peanut in hopes of attracting a chipmunk or squirrel to the back porch. He was kind to strangers and little children and had a twinkle in his eye that caused an immediate smile - even from strangers.

My Father has never had a chance to meet my children, but they know exactly who he was and what he stood for. They've heard every story about how he loved his family above all else. They can show you the tree at the beach that he sat beneath when he took me swimming as a youngster, they say "love you grandpa" as we pass the cemetery where he is buried (beside his own loving mother). My son says "I miss Grandpa Andre" even though he has never met him. His legacy lives on because of the amazing way he lived his life. He wasn't exceptionally smart or talented, but he knew how to love with all his heart and he knew how to trust people and find the good in others. Andre Casavant really did find the fountain of youth that so many have sought for so long. It's really not as far away as people think - we each have a fountain of youth within us, tap into that and you too can defeat age.

And as for me - my paths are abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine - because I know I do not walk those paths alone, I walk them hand in hand with my loving father who promised me that he would always be there when I needed him and that I could talk to him any time - he knew that his love and his legacy would transcend all space and time. I only hope mine can do the same - those are some big shoes to fill.


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