Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are. (H. Kushner)
August 6, 2019–
The handsome young man pictured on the left above with his beautiful mom, Julia, is Michael Mattei. Michael turns 25 today, and that fact seems nearly impossible to believe! He’s the oldest son of Julia and her husband, Steve, and the brother to Jack, Megan, and Joey Mattei. This entire family has a special place in our hearts. They were our long-time neighbors and church/school friends and they remain treasures in our lives, even though we don’t see them as often as we’d like.
I have often told Michael’s mom that she’s my “mom mentor”. The reason is simple! She was in the middle of raising the most phenomenal young man who is 3 years older than my oldest kiddo when I commandeered her guidance many years back. Here’s a hot tip. If you’re looking for someone to guide you as a parent, always choose the one with the most respectful, character-filled children. That was Michael (and his siblings too).
Too often we underestimate the power of a friendly smile, a kind word, or even just a silly fist bump in the hallway. My son, Nick, (who is 3 years younger) always noticed how Michael was spreading sunshine in the hallways back in their grade school days at SLDM. More than once, he came home to excitedly tell me that the “way cool” Michael had given him a high five in the hallway or some such thing. He’d shoot hoops in the driveway with the younger guys and encourage Nick as he hung on for dear life on an innertube at Lake Sweetwater too. I bet you had no idea that that tree you planted sprouted roots and lived on when you left, Michael…but it did! You see, I recall when Nick became the “pretty big deal 8th grader” and I heard from some moms with younger kids about his smiles and hallway fist bumps. When I questioned him about this (awesome) behavior, he said, “I just always wanted to be like Michael, and he was so nice to all of us younger guys!”
A few weeks ago at his grandmother’s funeral, I ran into Michael for the first time in a while. It was a somber occasion, but he greeted me with his bright smile and warm hug. His joyful spirit and quick grin were as present as ever. He’s an enthusiastic, responsible, bright, handsome and witty young man. He is a Cathedral grad and was a Fiji at IU, who now lives in Manhattan! What the heck is happening? How are so many of my favorite kids now adulting?
Today, on your birthday, Michael, I just wanted to give you a little shout out and let you know that the positivity that you project is a piece of needed sunshine in this world! Your future is so incredibly bright!! I hope that today on your special day that you know how much you are appreciated and loved by SO MANY, including the entire Thieme family! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MICHAEL!!