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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

If Connie were a car, I wonder? What would it be called? Perhaps, Dodge would carry a new brand, a Doer, or a maybe, the Competitor, really not sure. I do know though, it would be orange, light green, and yellow, with orange and tan interior. Very classy with rockin’ shoes. It would be a 4-door so that families could be ferried to ballgames, school functions, or fellow citizens could travel to town meetings. All the seats except the driver’s would be ejector seats for those unruly passengers. The car would come standard with a sunroof and headlights that could wink. The radio could play any show tune with voice activation, however, the radio would be unable to play RAP music. Regardless of weather conditions, no matter how bad the climate, the car would be reliable every time and start on cue.

No need for unleaded fuel, the car would run top notch provided that the fuel was a healthy blend of strawberries, ice cream, popcorn, and white wine or champagne. The engine. Just your basic 4 cylinder with a standard carburetor, turbo charged with automatic transmission. Total horsepower just under 1000, with top speed at 235 mph. Miles per gallon, unknown. Folks have yet to see the car run out of fuel when running at top speed. It would be 2-wheel drive that could cross rivers, could climb any mountain, and could overcome any obstacle. Finally, the car would be absolutely gorgeous. Yes, Connie would not be your average car. She would be an original, for which no other car could achieve the same results.

In life, we’re told by our parents to do our best, coaches will shout “leave it all on the field” and employers reward those who work longer and harder. But what drives us to this effort? What does doing your best or giving it your 100% look like? Is it by your action or is it by your words?

The great philosopher Mick Jagger wrote “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Not true Mick. Connie showed us that you can get what you want. A simple “I’ve got this,” along with a tenacious and fearless attitude, and she was on her way. She would put forth her best, her 100% by her actions …..every day.

Have you ever had an epiphany after deep introspection, where you say to yourself “hey wait a minute, I had no idea….” Where a variety of actions occur throughout your life that may have been overlooked before and yet later you now come to realize that your behavior in many ways mimics those overlooked actions by another.

As I have reflected on the many memories of Connie this past week, I realized that her actions has had a profound impact on the way I lead my life today. It’s possible, frankly it’s probable that Connie never knew how powerful her actions really were in developing my own habits and decisions.

Think about it. Each of us will have an impact on the lives of others. Our collective hope is that we make a positive impact. However, we may never know.

So today, I stand before you because of Connie’s actions. Writing a eulogy, let alone presenting one is not an easy task. You must be brave and have the courage to deliver. You stand up and speak proudly and you say to yourself. “I got this.” And you realize that “Her Actions Spoke So Much Louder than Words."

Simply put, Connie was the catalyst of the clan, the ignitor of invention, she was the perpetuator of possible.

Some 44 years ago, Connie cruised over to Lake Elsinore with her girlfriend, Joanne, to see some knucklehead’s hang gliding off Ortega highway. There she met this stud of a guy named Darrel. Not long after, I along with my brother, we ventured to Disneyland and met Connie. She wore a white/green mixed sundress. She was incredibly fit, brown as a bean, and dressed to the nine’s. Yes, my dad was dating a hottie.

Now, let’s take a moment. Connie, a beautiful single women living in a posh well-appointed apartment in Seal Beach, says I’m getting married and moving to Escondido. I’m going to be a mother overnight to a 9 year old and 5 year old. I’m going to move from an apartment to a partially remodeled home that has no carpet in the living room. In fact, this room with its large wall to the East is used as a handball court….lovely.

While the rather large sliding glass door to the west is covered with blankets as draperies. The coffee-table a cut in half wire reel stacked on two large blocks. The backyard grass, tall enough for any young boy to lie down and hide from everyone. Yes, many frat houses probably looked much better than this humble abode.

And Connie says “I got this. This house will become my home.”

Now, with Connie at the helm, we now had some new rules. “You burp, wash a window.” True story. The large sliding glass door…considered one very large window. We would no longer chow down on pizza in the living room. Instead, we would now dine in the kitchen or dining room.

Over the next couple of years, the house transformed into a beautiful home. The carpet. You guess it. Light green, yellow, and orange, it covered any and all spills. We had furniture! A dining room table, a real coffee-table, yellow with glass. And finally, tons and tons of house plants. For the 70s, our house had game.

In the backyard, my younger brother could no longer hide. The grass was clipped to perfection. We had still had another table converted from a large wire spool, but this time, it sat beneath a large elm tree. In the summers, we would put down place mats, and dine with a slight breeze and sunlight peaking through the leaves. Connie created that experience.

For the next 10 years until I left for college, Connie made our house a home. Remodel after remodel to accommodate our growing family with the addition of Tiffani, and Kory. More furniture, with lots of greens and orange. More plants and the creation of Massada 1 and 2 which were these large wood ceiling deck structures that either attached to the house or were self-standing that housed hundreds of plants for which Connie spent hours grooming and making beautiful. Her Actions Spoke Louder Than Words.

So many great memories. Some were just normal, but somehow memorable because of Connie’s playful reaction. One night, as she always did, Connie’s cooking dinner, this time grilled shrimp. I being a young teenager and real turkey monster sometimes, grab a newly grilled shrimp from the stove. Connie piped “hey, wait that’s for dinner.” Dad shortly thereafter snags a shrimp from around the corner, and another response “Darrel, that’s for dinner!” Finally, Mike sneaks yet another shrimp. We had effectively overwhelmed the opposition. Connie smiled, and merely said “well at least use a fork and paper towels.” We laughed had the entire dinner standing up huddle over that stove.

One year, we traveled to Yosemite, it rained constantly. No worries, Connie taught us the great card game smudge, wherein you heated up the end of a cork to create a black smudge marker. The loser would get a black circle pasted on their face. While it rained, we played for hours until all of our faces were covered in black. For several rainy days, more games of smudge, more black faces, and lots of laughter. Her Actions Spoke Louder Than Words.

As we all know, Connie was a great teacher. She worked tirelessly with lesson plans. I can remember seeing her in front of a Smith Corona typewriter. Rat-ta-tat-tat, Rat-ta-tat-tat, as she drafted her thesis to get her Master’s degree. All the while, taking care of a family, dealing with two boys, attempting to feed my rather large appetite, and creating great memories.

And then there was the decorations and parties. Oh my goodness, the decorations. A regular Macy’s department store at our house. It seemed like every month there was a new set of decorations to bring in the New Year, Valentine’s Day and many others, like birthday and un-birthday parties for nieces.

And then Connie would turn everything green for St. Patrick’s Day.

A month later, a massive Easter egg hunt.

And then the most magical holiday of the year, Christmas. Connie made it so. As a young lad, I would join Connie and Dad in the living room and we made some rather beautiful Christmas decorations that were used for years and years to come. Oh from the endless competitions of our traditional verbal tag, simply known as Christmas Gift, the ever popular cabbage gift, the amazing presentation of Annalee dolls, to the family gifts from Connie that were sometimes mismarked. These staples of fun now have become hallmark traditions that our families continue today. Connie’s Actions Spoke Louder Than Words.

Long after I moved away, I watched Connie from afar continue to Act. Her tenacious spirit of getting local legislation passed for the benefit of others, to teaching hundreds of elementary kids, to running for state assembly, to providing creativity and fun for all during her efforts, to rooting for her kids at sporting events, to showing rich love for her man, to overcoming obstacles, and to accepting challenges everyday, Her Actions Truly Spoke Louder Than Words

It’s interesting how in so many ways I have followed in Connie’s footsteps. I fell in love and overnight became a father to three teenagers who are now grown with their own children. I’ve been blessed to have yet another son and have watched him grow into a fine young man. I moved to city for which I knew no one. I’ve been active in local politics and have championed several initiatives. I’ve created silly stuff and I hope to create many more.

And while I may not be a green and orange car that runs on popcorn and strawberries, perhaps someday as I attempt to put forth my 100%, I too, can have my Actions Speak Louder than Words.

Bill Witt - CPA, Attorney
Entrepreneur, Speaker & Author
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