Mad for…Nick

The passionate, energetic Dad in the center of this photo is an old friend of mine, Nick Bazan! Coach Bazan is THE BIGGEST CUBS FAN I have ever met, and I have spent most my life with some pretty big fans of the Chicago Cubs…so that’s saying something! He’s pictured here with his beautiful daughter, Bella (at left) along with his wife Crystal (who everyone calls “Ball”) and his handsome son, Dawson.

Coach Bazan spent some time coaching baseball for my youngest son, Zach, who played alongside Dawson on the fields at Skiles Test, which is on the northeast side of Indianapolis. It was without a doubt the most fun my kid ever had playing baseball, because Coach Bazan is one of the most sunny, sparkling and positive people I have ever encountered. He had nicknames for all the kiddos, and he called Zach “All-American”. There was “Lights Out” Ferrucci, Denzel “The Hammer”, Nick “Lightening” Boltz and “Tough as Nails” Bartlett, for instance. The boys were never referred to by the super boring names we parents gave them, always they were called by their nicknames, which made them smile from ear to ear!

He made them work hard, but they also played hard! He and Coach Ferrucci were a dynamic duo out there with teams that were tough to beat! He had a game I am going to call “Hit the Bucket” and at the end of many practices he would give the kids one chance to throw the ball at the bucket from a distance and if you could do it in one try, then there would be a prize– usually $1 or a piece of candy. The boys LOVED that and looked forward to it with glee!!

As this youngest child of mine heads to high school this fall, he’s looking more grown up all the time. He now stands about 5’10 which makes me the shortest of the Thieme family these days. His voice is so darn low that I feel fairly certain he will be in the bass section in that choir class he signed up to try. My babies have grown up and it has me feeling a little nostalgic today, I suppose, and so grateful for so many of the folks who over the years poured out their hearts and volunteered countless hours for other people’s children.

Nick Bazan stands out among those men for his integrity and quality of character. He just seemed to do it all so that the kids received a dose of the same values and experiences sports gave him. His devotion and passion inspired strength and courage in my son to be the best he could possibly be. I am thankful for you, Nick, and want you to know that the Thieme family has never forgotten you, the amazing and generous Coach Ball or those awesome boys of summer at Skiles!! Bella and Dawson are very blessed young people to call you DAD!

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal. –George Will

Mad for…Chad

Goodness is the only investment that never fails. (Henry David Thoreau)

Several years ago when my oldest son, Nick, was in the 6th grade, he found himself playing the low post on a basketball court on Indy’s west side. Despite his significant height disadvantage, Nick Fred was fighting the good fight… until he took an elbow to the mouth while hustling for a rebound and he found himself missing half of his front tooth and with some very sensitive nerve endings dangling. Even the act of breathing seemed incredibly painful. I scooped up the broken piece of tooth his teammate had collected from underneath the basket and tossed it in Nick’s water bottle. I didn’t know what else to do but to try and reach our friend and neighbor, Dr. Chad Bailey. “I’m at the store with Ally, but I’ll meet you at my office as soon as I can get there.”

Despite the fact that it was a Saturday morning, Chad, who is an excellent dentist, very kindly and compassionately put in what we thought would be a quick temporary fix. His daughter was very into the copy machine and the two of us spent about an hour making photo copies of dollar bills, as I recall, while her dad played hero in the next room with Nick and his tooth. I chose not to worry Chad too much about his girl’s fascination with “counterfeiting” (ha?) as I was just so thankful for his thoughtfulness!!

Remarkably, that tooth he glued back together on a random Saturday morning lasted for like 6 years! When it finally gave way, it happened of course at like 11pm when Chad was on the ice playing hockey with friends. Yes, our talented dentist friend saved my kid that time too, at about midnight as I recall. Nick was so grateful that he tweeted about the awesomeness of his dentist– that’s not something you see often coming from the twitter account of a high school kid! Chad is one of the good guys.

It’s not just Nick that he has used his talents to go above and beyond for, either. I called him once looking for help when a priest friend of mine from Africa told me that his mother was flying to the US to visit him and that she was in significant pain. She had never in her life seen a real dentist, he finally confessed, quite embarrassed, and he didn’t know that he could even afford to help her much if he could even convince her to go see a dentist. She was notably frightened. When I called Chad to explain the situation, his humanity and graciousness were just way beyond thoughtful. His selflessness and the courtesy he showed to her was way above and beyond the call of duty. When several weeks later she visited me at home and flashed her new, gorgeous smile, I wondered if Chad had any idea what goodness he had bestowed on this total stranger. I do know the woman definitely had no access to a dentist like Chad Bailey back home in Ghana!!

We are still neighbors with the Bailey family. Chad and his beautiful wife, Angie, have two daughters (Ally and Logan, pictured above with their Dad). Those are three very blessed ladies to have such a kind-hearted man in their lives. He likes to laugh a little, gamble a touch, and he plays plenty of golf. I often see him with a drink in his hand and a smile on his face. Today, I saw him in his office at my regular visit to the dentist, which was absolutely routine…but it reminded me about his integrity and flat out goodness. Dr. Chad, you’re a good egg, and I’m way overdue to say so properly. Today, I hope you’ll accept my thanks for the integrity-filled way you have taken care of my clan and countless others over the years! We are grateful for you and the example you share with the world about how to treat others with goodness. What you do everyday? It matters.

Mad for…Jaime

Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness of people. (R. Bennett)

At about this time each summer for the last several years, I’ve started to notice loads of baby-faced incoming 9th graders with noodles for arms and legs as big around as brand new saplings start to make their way through the doors at Guerin Catholic High School and I always think to myself, “Good gosh, Coach Waymouth has his work cut out for him!”

Allow me to introduce you to Jaime Waymouth. He’s a strength and conditioning coach for St. Vincent Sports Performance as well as one of the first faces that new sports loving freshmen get to meet when they start their journey at Guerin Catholic. He’s also a husband and a proud dad of three beautiful children. What lucky kiddos those three are to call him Dad!

This morning as my youngest son, Zach, made his way to the GC weight room for the first time as a high schooler, I found myself thinking about how fortunate all those young “Golden Eagles” are to have an honest, generous, integrity-filled and truly kind man helping them find their footing. To me, goodness is all about character, and Coach Waymouth is filled to overflowing with both! He’s a guy who goes out of his way for the students in his care, helping them become stronger in mind, body and spirit along the way while he’s at it. He goes the extra mile, not to be seen, but simply because it’s the right and good thing to do. He’s a positive guy who has a terrific smile. In his weight room, the safety of young people comes first and his expectation is that everyone will work hard. How great is that?!

At the Thieme house and many, many others, Coach Waymouth is a favorite for his authenticity and the faith-filled way he leads. I am truly grateful that one more Thieme boy will have the chance to get to know him a little more, because he’s a man who helps young people see what they can be if they give their best effort! THANK YOU, JAIME WAYMOUTH for all you do for the kids in your weight room…you are most certainly an everyday hero and our family is way overdue to let you know that we are grateful for you!

Mad for…Anthony

I come from a large family but I was not raised with a fortune. Something more was left me, and that was family values. -Dikembe Mutombo

When I was about 12 years old, my small family of four went to Washington DC to see the nation’s capital. We stayed with the Plumb family. They were cousins of my Dad and I think they had 12 children. It was a whirlwind of activity in that household which was both exciting and not just a little bit overwhelming to me. At one point, Delores Plumb (mom to this huge brood) called out to no one in particular, “Has anyone seen Larry?” One of the girls called back, “How long has he been gone anyway?” Her mom replied, “I haven’t seen him in about 3 days, but then you know, at this age boys need their independence!” It was both hilarious and shocking to me, the oldest of 2 girls who didn’t even share a bedroom!

The Ayers family is NOT the Plumb clan, as you can see from the photo above. They’ve got 6 gorgeous kiddos, not 12, but at a recent baseball game at Chatard when Anthony Ayers, father of this terrific gaggle of smiles called out to his wife, Lauren wondering, “Do you know where Luke is? Ah hell, he’s probably with Adam…” it made me think back to the missing Larry Plumb and wonder if he ever did turn up, ha?

As we move on to the remainder of the summer, I find myself still thinking about all the really amazing Dads that surround me and today I wanted to take a minute to give a little shout out to Anthony Ayers. He’s a laid back guy, as well as a supportive and very involved father of six– 5 boys and little Mary. He laughs easily and doesn’t seem to worry too much about setbacks. He’s been hobbling around on a knee that recently was under the knife, but he just keeps moving and doing his day, and showing up for his kids many sporting events! He loves coaching his boys, especially in football, and he’s a very faith-filled guy who can be found at mass with his kids and his beautiful wife, Lauren, every Sunday without fail. They are always remarkably well-behaved in my opinion, and they really are great young people.

Men who lead their families in faith by their own example are truly living their vocation at the next level if you ask me, and Anthony Ayers is a fine witness of fatherhood to all around him. He’s a generous guy whose habit I’ve noticed is to give freely what he has to those around him without expecting anything in return. He’s a positive, quick-witted and character filled man who cares deeply about his family as well as his faith community. Anthony, I hope you had a very HAPPY FATHER’S DAY because you deserve it! I think you are THE REAL DEAL!!

Mad for…Dad!

To make the world a friendly place, one must show it a friendly face. (James Whitcomb Riley)

When I was a young girl growing up in Lafayette, I began to jokingly refer to my Dad as “the Mayor”. I’m not sure if it’s an honorary title conferred on him by my mom or my sister first, but regardless, it’s been in regular use for several decades now. One did not want to “make a quick trip” with Dad to the grocery, the hardware store or anyplace else for that matter if you had made previous plans for your day. DAD KNOWS EVERYONE in Tippecanoe County. Also? He’s extremely friendly and articulate. He’s 45 minutes chatting in the freezing cold produce section friendly…ha?! If you haven’t met my Dad yet, I promise you he will be trying to make your acquaintance if ever you end up in the same room!

Dad is a lifelong member of St. Lawrence Catholic Church on the north side of Lafayette and he graduated from Lafayette Jeff High School where he was a standout in both football and tennis. He then went on to play college football at Franklin College before moving back to Lafayette and becoming a banker. His love of all sports, but especially his hometown Boilermakers, rubbed off on me. There were always Purdue basketball games on TV and plenty of exciting fall tailgate parties in the old bank parking lot across the street from Mackey Arena before kickoff at Ross-Ade when I was a kid. Also, there were cherished vacations every summer to the Kentucky State Parks and then in later years Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Here’s something that stands out for me, though. Each weekend, the 4 of us (Mom, Dad, Robin and I) would head down to Teal Road and “clean the branch”. It was literally the Teal Rd. location for his employer, Lafayette National Bank. We would sweep the floors, clean out the ashtrays, trash cans, and other similarly glamorous jobs. I was not a big fan of this job, mind you, but it was just what we did. The money we earned, he explained, help to pay for those summer trips we loved. We did this work for many years, and as I look back on it now, I realize what a great lesson it was! I’m pretty sure we stopped not by his choice but because he had been promoted enough times that the management at the bank probably found it a little embarrassing to have an officer at the bank acting as the janitor too? Sometimes on a hot day if we had done a particularly good job, he would take us all for ice cream afterward at the Dairy Queen down the street.

Because Dad had so many relationships with folks around town, it was very common for me to be in line with him at one of the local funeral homes “paying our respects”. Dad’s witness for me was about how showing up for others is well worth any inconvenience. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to learn this lesson as a young girl. He also taught me that it’s more than okay to smile and crack a joke at tough moments, by the way. His kindness and mood lightening smile given generously to aid struggling souls dealing with all sorts of challenges in their lives showed them and me too that there is love all around us. His friendliness is just the state of his being, and I could see that his positivity and his presence made all the difference.

Dad, I hope you know already how much I love and respect you. You have always shown up, and you’ve also always worn your heart on your sleeve, so I think it’s you I have to blame for my sappiness and the constant lump in my throat… but I’ll take it if it means that my heart is half as beautiful as yours. Thanks for always having my back and for making it crystal clear how much you care. I’m grateful for the way you love me, Tom, Nick, Drew and Zach. As a Dad and a Grandpa, I cannot imagine how God could have blessed us any more than He did when he gave us YOU. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!

Mad for…Scott

One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord. And He will repay him for his good deed. (Prov. 19:17)

A West Point graduate, Scott Zigmond is the husband of a warm-hearted wife named Joanie and he’s the father to five girls! His military background is impossible to miss, because it really does permeate his personality in the same way that bright sunshine pours into my east facing bedroom windows each morning!

Positive, hard-working and thoughtful, Scott is also a spiritual guy. His faith informs his choices. He’s a devout guy who I often see at mass. I chose the quote that I did for him today because in the time I’ve known him, I’ve watched him do pretty amazing work for others in his church family and the community at large– at St. Louis de Montfort, Guerin Catholic, and OLMC for example. Additionally, he and Joanie have both made extremely meaningful contributions of time, talent and treasure to Samaritan’s Feet, a charity that has put over 7 million pairs of shoes on the feet of impoverished children around the world. It’s meaningful and awesome work that I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing first-hand. If you’ve not heard of them, it’s worth taking the time to learn more at

Here’s the thing about Scott and his glorious family full of beautiful and intelligent women…he makes integrity look cool. He’s this tall, sharp-looking guy who is quick-witted, intelligent and friendly. Life is all about making holy choices that will honor God and that’s what he’s all about. The unique combination of giftedness provides a powerful witness to those around him!

As we have been raising our (very different) families, I’ve had the pleasure of watching the Zigmond clan from my nearby perch. The Zigmond house has far superior levels of estrogen, than the Thieme home, it’s true. However, what Scott does as a father is very impressive. His daughters share his strength of character and leadership skills. I have no doubt this happened in part because he supports, encourages and loves in very visible ways. Sometimes, it’s extremely inconvenient with all his work and other responsibilities, but Scott is ever present for his young ladies and their events and activities while also focusing on faith and community. He’s a hard worker who is joyful and self-sacrificing at the same time. He’s articulate and he’s funny. I have long felt great respect for him and am overdue to say so! Today, as we are ALMOST to Father’s Day, I wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU, SCOTT for being such a terrific witness to those around you about how important it is for men to lead their families in faith! You are an amazing dad and I wish you a VERY HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!

Mad for…Linda

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. (Matthew 11:28-29)

It might seem a tad peculiar that as we begin Father’s Day weekend I would want to introduce you to my faith-filled friend, Linda Ray. However, I promise you there is a method to the madness. As you can see from the photo above, she is the mom of two absolutely beautiful daughters, Lucinda (center) and Rose (right). They are both very bright and accomplished students as well as fine human beings.

It’s not at all that I have run out of wonderful men to feature, it’s more like I wanted to properly honor a woman that has played the role of two parents to two little girls since her husband, Carson, passed away in 2007. Linda is a friend I know from church and from my oldest son’s grade school days. Linda’s oldest daughter, (who would now be 21 years old or so and about to enter her senior year at Purdue University this coming fall, I believe) was a classmate of my son, Nick. I believe they were in the 4th grade when Lucinda lost her Dad. I remember Carson as an artsy guy with a lovely smile who was talented behind a camera and who clearly loved his girls.

Also, though, I remember that when it must have felt that her life was falling apart around her, Linda ran to the Lord. It seemed to me that she quietly handed her world-weary heart to Jesus and put one brave foot in front of the other and just kept on going. Yes, she worked hard and played the role of both mom and dad every single day. Yes, she must have had many moments where doubt overwhelmed her. However, the Ray girls have thrived, and Linda, by her quiet and graceful example, has shown me and many others how to trust our good and gracious God with our very lives. By watching her smile and hearing her always positive words for others (myself included) she has encouraged me to remember that God loves us more than just a little. If we simply call His name, He will swoop down into our lives and pour out overflowing grace.

As I have been writing each day about the folks around me that I think make a positive difference in the world, it has occurred to me that often those who make truly lasting impacts aren’t the usual suspects. Often, they are folks passing by in the background, quietly and courageously living their lives and carrying their crosses– out of love. Linda is such a woman. Today, as we begin to celebrate the terrific fathers all around us over the next few days, I want to say THANK YOU LINDA, for being a beautiful example to me and others of what selfless love looks like! You are stunning and exceptional, and without a doubt I know Jesus smiles at the work you have done and continue to do, in His name!!

Mad for…Chuck

The Lord is a Father, the most tender and best of fathers. He cannot fail to be moved when His children appeal to Him. (St. Padre Pio)

So, my tribute to the fantastic dads among us continues as we head into Father’s Day weekend! Today, I’d like to introduce you to a tender-hearted, joyful lover of life named Chuck Stumpf. He’s the husband of Georgia and the TERRIFIC father of my “adopted” brother, Ted. As the photo above from last year on Father’s Day testifies, Chuck is also a dog lover!

During my formative years, Chuck and all the Stumpf family were ever present. As a child, we spent every summer vacation with Chuck, Georgia and Ted. I consider them family for sure, and Chuckie is like a second father to me in both my mind and heart. With nearly utter disregard for self-respect and almost certain humiliation for several people I love, I offer the following photo as proof of our lengthy relationship. It was taken, I am fairly certain, at one of the Kentucky State Parks in perhaps 1979 or so? I’m on the far right in the striped shirt posing as if I have a hideous ear infection and Chuck is the hitman figure wearing sunglasses in the rear. It’s possible he was going for an Elvis vibe? He’s always loved “The King”. Also present are from left, Ted, my parents, my little sister, Robin, and Georgia. Good grief, we are a sight for sure!

A native of Indy’s southside, Chuck is a Southport HS graduate and from there he went on to play football at Franklin College. Becoming a Franklin Grizzly is what led him to a lifelong friendship with my Dad, Jim Dykhuizen…and the rest is history.

Chuck is honest, integrity-filled, and thoughtful. He’s faithful, bright, and supportive. Over the years, his presence at important events has truly been something I knew I could count on, and I have watched him support his own son and other family members too– always with love and respect. He’s not stingy when it comes to sharing his heart and he gives glorious bear hugs.

After many years of attending mass, Chuck converted to the Catholic Church with my Dad as his sponsor. What a joyous occasion that was for all of us who were able to attend that Easter Vigil down at St. Barnabas! I’m not sure where any of us are on our faith journey at a given point in time, but I do know that Chuck is someone who doesn’t hesitate to pick up his cross and follow Jesus. That’s a beautiful example I benefitted from by watching him make many (sometimes difficult) sacrifices for his family and others over many, many years.

Here’s the other thing about Chuck that is hard for me to properly articulate without it sounding trite. Let me try it this way. Are any of you old enough to remember Jiminy Cricket? He was the fictional character who counseled Pinocchio to “always let your conscience be your guide.” As well-formed consciences go, Chuck’s is at the top of the heap. His compass points north and his heart is as sincere as it is beautiful. It shines like the sun! He’s a man of character who is always going to try and do the right thing.

Chuckie, you are a truly beautiful human being and I love you! At certain times in my life, your graciousness to me and my family has been jaw-dropping. I wish you a very HAPPY FATHER’S DAY….! Enjoy your time in Hilton Head and we’ll catch you next summer for what I know will be a very special trip for all of us!!

Mad for…Steve

People are made for happiness. Rightly, then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours. But he asks you to trust him. –St. (Pope) John Paul II

With Father’s Day on the horizon this week, you may have noticed, if you’re following along, that I am sharing a little with all of you about some of the best men (and dads)around. This morning, I spotted one such guy with his arm around his girl, sort of like in the photo above. This time, though, the winsome and thoughtful husband, Steve Mattei, was consoling his wife, Julia, at the funeral of her mother, Pat Behan. It was beautiful.

The chapel at St. Augustine’s on 86th St. in Indy was full to the brim with family, friends, and quite a few of the “Little Sisters” I have made mention of in this blog more than once. Julia Mattei’s mom, Pat, was a resident at St. A’s under their care for something like 16 years after she had a stroke in her late 60s until she passed away at age 82 last week. It was heartening to see such a big crowd there to support the entire Behan family, as they are a faith-filled and terrific group of humans.

While I was mulling around before the funeral mass, I spoke to 3 of Steve’s 4 children. After mass, the fourth, Joey, came and gave me a beautiful hug. All of those young people were articulate, kind, and lovely. That doesn’t happen magically, folks. It takes amazing parenting, and Steve and Julia are definitely those people. Michael, Jack, Megan and Joey are a reflection of the character and integrity filled parents they were blessed to have as role models. Since I’ve already told you a little about Julia, I want to take a moment to thank Steve for the fine example he provides to so many of us in his path. Faith-filled, quick-witted and charming, Steve is the epitome of thoughtfulness and grace. When I see Steve Mattei, he’s always quick to smile and share a little happiness. It’s such a wonderful gift!

Steve was my neighbor for many years. I watched him parent little ones, then much bigger young adults, and I heard a lot of stories about his growing up years in Louisville. He hasn’t managed to shake the totally delightful accent, despite many years living in central Indiana. In addition to be a doting LAX Dad, he also spent a lot of time being involved in all sorts of youth sports with his brood– including football, basketball and volleyball. He’s an expert speedboat driver, and he knows how to ice down a cooler full of beverages like an expert. He’s likable for many reasons, not the least of which is his ability to mix up one of the best margaritas on the planet.

What makes Steve especially appealing to me is the down to earth, authentic way he lives his life. He’s not flashy, but he’s got an impressive work ethic and he’s very funny, but also is ever present for his family. By watching and emulating him, his children have had the opportunity to know something extremely important. As friendships and jobs come and go, as family members move near or far, love and the Lord are not transitory. What a beautiful gift to give to one’s children– to know without question that they are treasured by their family and loved by the Lord– no matter where they roam!

Steve, I’m proud to call you friend. You’re an amazing Dad and terrific husband. I would like to take this moment to wish you (in advance) a very HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! You are a gem, a treasure…and the face of Christ to many!

Mad for…John

Let us reflect gratitude for fathers. Father is ever willing to sacrifice his own comfort for that of his children. Daily he toils to provide the necessities of life, never complaining, ever concerned for the well-being of his family. This love for children, this desire to see them well and happy, is a constant in a time of change. –Thomas Monson

If ever your car has broken down on the side of the road, the guy you need to be hoping will pass by soon is the man pictured above, John Zimmerman. I’m not kidding. He can’t help himself. He’s just a generous everyday hero to his core. This jovial and amiable jack-of-all trades and consummate “good Samaritan” is a father of six grown children (John Ryan, Katie, Michael, Mary, Sarah and Joseph) and the grandfather of an ever growing brood of cuties. He’s pictured here with another stunningly beautiful soul, his wife Tina.

As we inch closer to Father’s Day this weekend, I find myself inspired to celebrate a few of the great men among us! That certainly includes my friend, JZ. I can’t really do him justice in a few paragraphs. He’s just flat out a lover of Christ. Next to the phrase “salt of the earth” is where I think his photo belongs. He’s a man who focuses on the positive and trust me when I tell you that if he is laughing, soon you will be doing the same! His authentic sense of humor as well as his big heart are impossible to miss. That laugh of his is infectious and his smile is like sunshine! I’m sure his life is not without plenty of stress, but you’d never know it from the warm greeting you get from John each time you see him!

I read once that every father should remember one day his child will follow his example rather than his advice. If that’s true, then John’s kids are in excellent shape. Their lives will be filled with faith and fun! This man has served on countless mission trips, he’s coached many young people in youth sports, he’s served his parish, St. Louis de Montfort, in virtually every way conceivable. He’s prayerful, often encouraging others in his path to step up their faith life too. He’s hard-working, uncomplicated, non-judgmental– and filled with joy. He knows imperfections are merely an invitation for God’s grace to go to work in us all.

John is as proud a parent as I know. He loves to watch his family shine! The truth is, he finds great happiness in the successes of everyone around him. He’s a “the more, the merrier” kind of guy. I think John lives a lot like Jesus, if I’m honest. He loves like the Lord wants us to love. He’s an inspiring witness of what fatherhood is meant to look like and a light to all in his path. THANK YOU, JOHN, for being the fact of Christ to so many of us! I hope you enjoy a very HAPPY FATHER’S DAY this weekend!