Fair warning, the columns you read in this month’s edition of The Voice can induce mixed emotions. On the one hand, the memories of one of our founding members should remind each of us of all that is good in our profession and how we should all carry ourselves in the practice of law. On the other hand, we are always saddened by the loss of one of the heroes of criminal defense. I am personally saddened that I never had the chance to meet and speak with Judge Maloney. Judging from the outpouring of memories, it is my loss. But, this is a reminder for me that I need to cherish the time I have with all of my heroes. Some of you know me well enough to know who my personal heroes are, but we all need to remember that each of our heroes won’t be here one day. I will echo Heather’s words that we often wait too long to tell them what they mean to us and how they have helped us become the lawyers we are today. I know we’re all busy and finding time in a hectic day to say “thank you” or “I love you” or “I owe a piece of my success to you” can fall to the bottom of the to‑do list. Don’t let it. I challenge each of you to find a few minutes in the next month to reach out to your hero, tell them how you feel, and ask them about their own story. I promise you’ll be happy that you did.
When I was a high school kid, I had the wherewithal to ask my maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother about their stories. They were two of my favorite people in the world, and I realized I had never asked either of them about their lives. Granted, neither were lawyers, but I assure you the lesson remains. I am forever grateful that I took that time when lord knows I didn’t have the brain matter to think past my next baseball or football practice. In both cases, two of my heroes spoke with me like they had never before and told me, in vivid detail, the good and bad of a life long gone. I could picture marching into Paris in World War II with my Grandpa and what that must have felt like. I could also feel the misery my Grandma and her family endured of living on a ranch in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl and doing everything possible to keep that land. In both instances, I saw my personal heroes shed tears, something I had never seen before. I got to see people who were larger than life in a way that was both more human and yet even larger than before. I wouldn’t trade those two conversations for anything in the world, especially because they both passed within a few years of those conversations and that was probably the last time anyone took the time to hear their stories. None of this is to say that I’ve perfected the art of talking to my heroes and letting them know how I feel. I’m just telling you it’s worth the time. Hell, as I write this and think about those conversations, I am simultaneously smiling and tearing up, but I know that they both got as much out of those conversations as I did.