I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am proud of to do so. It does not take much in a movie or a song to get me sentimental. I had one of the most amazing weeks recently when it comes to moments, particularly revolving around my Fraternity. In a week period I buried a Fraternity Brother, traveled to Phoenix for Fraternity board meeting, returned home and conducted my annual Leadership School, culminating the week by Initiating my Father into my brother Matt's & my Fraternity.
At my Leadership school one of the Undergraduates asked an alumni "when you know you have one of those Phi Alpha moments?" I have a list so long I could not expose them all here today in this story. But, I have had so many that week it was clear how much the Fraternity has been a good part of my life.
The week started with the news my friend Josh had passed suddenly at the early age of 33. He leaves a beautiful wife and 5 young children. Being a father myself, this is a crushing blow and reminder that I only rent my mortal coil from God, and have to make the most of each and every day I have on earth. Josh was a good man, a True Gentleman, and lit up every room he was in with smiles and laughter. Leading the Fraternity alumni at Josh's calling hours through the Burial Ritual was the single most difficult thing I have done in my volunteer life.
The morning after the service, I left at the crack of dawn to travel to Phoenix (fitting) and participate with other men to help guide our Fraternity forward. This was a complete recharge to my batteries having just buried a friend. The men at this meeting are examples of leadership, friendship, intelligent planning and true Brothers. I am truly lucky to be exposed to the caliber of man that volunteers currently with my Fraternity. I am confident my son will have SAE there when he gets to college in 2031, and I am proud to talk about my Fraternity with my non-Greek friends and colleagues.
The Phoenix trip was followed immediately by my most busy and hectic Fraternity week leading up to my regions Leadership School. Approximately 100 men from Northern Oho met up to work on being the best versions of ourselves we can be. Again the work the volunteer alumni, staff, and speakers did was inspiring. It was especially nice having my Brother Matt, up from Texas, participate as a breakout facilitator this year. I really think the men of my region are some of the best, and out Fraternity will be in good hands for decades.
The real moment to cap off the week was initiating my father Ralph McDonough. The local Chapter and National leaders approved a special non-student initiation for my Dad. He is the patriarch of a family the sports five SAE's already My brother Matt, me, our cousins Marc & Tom and my brother-in-law Ian. Our Dad is simply the best example of a True Gentleman I have ever known. Over the last 21 years, each time I recite the True Gentleman, all I think of is my Dad. Seeing my brother Matt Initiate our Dad, and getting to swear him in and pin his badge (315135) on him was the best moment.
So in one week, I had both the hardest and best moment of my Fraternity life. Tears of sadness and joy were shed all week. Truly a Phoenix week, a 33 year old friend entered Chapter Eternal, and my 73 year old father entered the Brotherhood. I would prefer just the good moments, but the bad ones also help define a heart. I am a lucky man to be able to have these moments, moments that define me as a man, a friend, a brother, a son, a husband and a father. I commit to working on being better at all these roles.