I am very blessed to have a wonderful family. I have a loving husband. I have beautiful children. I have amazing parents. I have a sister, cousins, aunts, and uncles. I’m lucky to be a Ward and even though my last name might have changed the Ward blood that pulses through my veins means I GET IT. I get family. I know what it means and what it’s worth. And I believe that started with Jimmy.
Jimmy made family a verb.
It’s not a noun. A noun can be passive. It can just be there in the background. Jimmy made sure that Wards knew that family is never passive. It’s never “in the background”.
It’s what you DO. It’s being there. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Family is laughing and arguing. It’s Baptisms and Thanksgivings. It’s long train rides to visit little brothers in an orphanage. It’s carving out a little part of the world, keeping it safe, and making it sacred.
Over 50 years ago Jimmy made a decision to be a family. There was nothing passive about it. He did it on purpose. He decided that no matter how difficult a road it might be, or how many odds were stacked against him, he was going to keep his little family of brothers together. Maybe not in a physical way, but in the way that really matters.
I believe that decision was the driving force ….
Four brothers that Jimmy decided would remain FAMILY. The four Ward brothers each had successful careers and happy marriages. These four brothers were the devoted fathers of 10 children (and I have been blessed to be one of them). Four brothers who watched the 10 children make their first communions, play baseball, graduate college, get married, and begin raising a new generation of 25 children (so far).
Three of those children are mine. Jimmy’s decision over 50 years ago has shaped my little family in so many ways. I truly believe my journey to motherhood… to Kirsten… began when Jimmy was 18 years old.
Today I’m sad. But when I think about Jimmy I’m going to smile. I’m going to remember the pure delight he took in watching my son’s temper tantrum last Christmas… the letter that my dad wrote to Jimmy while he was in Vietnam… thanking him for money and politely asking him to send more … I’m going to remember how he called Kirsten “the baby” for so many years and how filled with love and pride those two words sounded. I’m going to continue trying to be like Jimmy… continue holding the people I love close… continue thanking God for the DECISION of family he made and the gifts he gave us all through that decision.