Saturday, December 20, 2008

Patti Belfiori: Truly A Purpose Driven Life

Point of personal privilege, I am going off topic somewhat for this, my first post in over a month.

On December 18, 2008 I attended perhaps the most moving funeral service in my life in the Western Wisconsin City of River Falls. The deceased was not a famous celebrity nor a rich and powerful business person, yet Saint Bridget's Catholic Church was crowded with hundreds of men, women and children. The headline of the River Falls Journal, the local daily newspaper said it all: "Cherished, respected teacher loses life after long illness". See article at

All this just for a humble teacher, you may ask? Well, yes Virginia (and Phil), the deceased's parents, there is a Santa Claus so to speak, at least in small town America, like River Falls, Wisconsin. For all the self-help gurus or new-age religious leader heavyweights like Rick Warren ("The Purpose Driven Life") there are those out there that actually live a life of meaning and purpose, other-directed, full of love and enthusiasm for learning and helping others to reach their life's potential. Best of all, they did all this when nobody was looking or paying attention, or so they thought. I still get choked up writing this and I purposely waited a couple of days so I could get my emotions under control.

Well Patti, my dear cousin, people were paying attention: your friends, your extended family (of which I am proud to count myself a member), your students and your colleagues, all of whom eulogized your truly wonderful life so beautiful, so funny and at times, so poignant. Listening to the eulogies I could not help but think of a review of a self-help book I read about on the huffingtonpost back in September entitled "Life Purpose Begins With a Eulogy, Plan a purpose driven life with the end in mind".

Patti Belfiori did not need to be told this. She truly walked the talk as did her loving children Alex and Zoey and her significant other Jim, all of whom put their lives on hold and cared for Patti so she could remain home for two years during her final illness. Alot to ask of people you might be thinking, but as her children stated in their eulogy of their mother, Patti sacrificed so much in her life for them as well as her students, that repaying that debt came without heisitation.

The world and this nation are going through some very troubled times these days. Hopefully with the change in leadership about to take place in this country the era of fear, ignorance, selfishness and greed will give way to our better collective instincts as a people. Barack Obama seems to understand this. However, his job will be a little less easy without Patti Belfiori.

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