Friday, November 09, 2007

Irish-Sicilian Thanksgiving


The Cool Justice Report
Nov. 9, 2007

EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report,

Each Thanksgiving, for many years, my sister, MaryEllen, would ask us all to join hands and we would go around the table, each saying why we were thankful that year.

Ours is a large family, and although our last name is Irish, my mother's parents were born in Modica, Sicily. We are therefore closet Sicilians, and by definition an emotional lot.

Each year we would steel ourselves for the inevitable onslaught of emotion that accompanied this exercise in family, and early in the circuit there would be tears. For so many years there was a cascade of blessings and wondrous events to recount: children being born; good health; new jobs; children getting married and having their own babies. The list seemed to expand, exponentially.

But, life has a way of evening out and like all families. Eventually there were sorrowful events: deaths, divorce, health issues. It seemed like the law of averages had caught up with us after almost 25 years. For the first time there were hands missing when we sat to share our blessings. It began to feel like a struggle to find something to share. We embarked on nearly a decade of experiencing the ebb and flow of joy and sorrow in life.

This year another of us has endured a spouse leaving, a pain that radiates through the entire family. That same week our grandson, Tyler, was born, healthy, and into a world full of promise. Ebb and flow!

I spoke recently to a colleague who has endured an endless series of misfortunes: two broken legs in a fall; divorce; her home burned to the ground allegedly by her estranged husband who then tried to claim she was responsible. I have admired her ability to persevere, and find remarkable her ability to smile.

Another friend was blindsided by cancer, suffering through difficult surgeries and dealing with the residual disability. Despite that burden he found the energy to champion the cause of a young woman whose First Amendment rights were trampled on by her school administrators.

I began to realize that the setbacks we experience in our own lives often pale when compared to what others have to endure. Even with the adversity we face, if we reflect deeply, there is always something to be thankful for. We have to be optimists and believe that, or the setbacks can become overwhelming.

This realization has caused me to consider the lives of the first of us in this fledgling country to pause and give thanks. Those people had endured immeasurable hardship, fleeing religious tyranny and crossing an ocean to an often hostile land. Despite all they suffered we take a day to commemorate their perseverance and the realization that there is bounty among the occasional sadness.

So, this Thanksgiving take the hand of your companion, whether your dinner is a sumptuous feast, or simple fare, and look for the blessings that certainly exist among the rest of life's ebb and flow, and be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Bridgeport attorney Richard Meehan Jr. was the lead defense counsel for former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim's corruption trial. Meehan is certified as a criminal trial specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1994 and serves on the organizations Board of Examiners. He is a Charter Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America -- Trial Lawyer Honorary Society. Meehan has also obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements in complex medical and dental malpractice and personal injury litigation. He is a past president of the Greater Bridgeport Bar Association and appears regularly on Court TV. Website,

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