1Force Full Ending

•June 14, 2011 • 1 Comment

I have good news and bad news. So let’s get the bad out of the way first.

This will be the final post of beersandburpees.


But the good news is it’s coming to you from 40,000 feet in the air on the way back from an amazing cruise with the four people I love most in the world. Much like our little family, every part was not exactly  perfect, but most days we laughed until tears rolled as we sailed the Carnival Inspiration to Cozumel.

Jack shared his mad-class, bad-ass break dancing skills with an entire restaurant of cheering fans at formal dinner night. The lights went low and suddenly the music got loud signaling party time to start. He leapt from his seat and began to move as forty recent high school graduates chanted JACK, JACK, JACK! He was their makeshift mascot for the trip, a role he wholeheartedly cherished.

But the party don’t start till Kelly walks in… She passionately performed a freestyle jazz-slash-hip hop routine to Tic Tok in the kiddie talent show, complete with lip syncing and hair whipping. I cried with part pride and part sorrow at leaving the flip cam behind as I bore every moment in my brain to cherish for the rest of my ever. I channeled my inner pageant mother as I willed her to use the whole stage and make eye contact with the audience. If I had only got her spray tanned and manicured before we left.

They LOVED it. And surprisingly, each other while we were there!

Kevin made fast friends on the first day with the only other kid on board cool enough to rock a Mohawk. They owned the ship with nightly activities until 1am and 24-hour pizza and ice cream. I was happy for Kevy Levy that he didn’t have to share most moments of his vacation with his brother, sister or parents, who exist only to annoy and embarrass him.

As usual, CPO didn’t disappoint. Taking the most beautiful Puerto Rican man that ever lived to Latin night at the cruise disco when you’re a white girl usually doesn’t make one popular, but I had a strategy. Pushing him out to salsa with two very appreciative Mamis was such a good move. I love watching him dance and seeing the joy in the faces of the women who borrow him. Much like in the gym, I love sharing him on the dance floor. But that’s as far as it goes. He’s the best dance-life-parenting-business partner in the world, and I’m not letting him go. Ever.

Partly the reason for my farewell post.

Jesse and I have opened our own CrossFit affiliate, that we have proudly named 1Force. We will be located at 1320 Delsea Drive in Deptford and soon at crossfit1force.com. Watching him coach our charter members has been awe-inspiring. He’s so freaking creative with programming and packs more work into an hour than most. But his greatest asset is believing in our clients and coaching them in a way that makes them believe in themselves.

Kelly loves to take pics of us.

Jesse’s strength starts in his mind and transcends through his body. Sharing his knowledge and helping people live a better life is his destiny. There’s no one else I’d rather share my life and my business with than my favorite Coach.

So, it’s time to up my game folks. No more including the words beers and burpees in the same sentence. I plan to spend my (non-existent) free time blogging at CrossFit1force.com, and I hope to be more appropriate and responsible with my topics of choice.

But it’s me, so there’s bound to be a crack about THE SITUATION every now and again. Sorry RB. I just can’t help myself!

Beersandburpees began as celebration of all things CrossFit and loco Littles, and it was a wonderful way to express my love and gratitude to my bucket fillers. I will cherish the memories that are behind these words and the love that inspired it all. Thank you to all who have read, especially those who provided feedback. It was an honor to entertain you.

On behalf of the better half of 1Force and myself, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported our decision to build a community. Our parents have been outstanding. Keeping a smile and positive outlook when your kid opens a business in a down economy has to be DIFFICULT. The littles have been levenGOOD with a steady stream of new folks coming and going. Kevin Kellz will be the general making some minor outfits in the new space, and it’s amazing having someone in that role we can trust with our lives. Our 1Force team has worked their asses off, literally, and we are very proud of their efforts, accomplishments and faith in us during these early days.

My Inspiration

Lastly and never Leastly but always Beastly, I offer the most gratitude and thanks to our Tribe. Visiting our home and working with our members has shown them first hand what elite fitness is all about. When I’m coaching a class of ten it’s so comforting to have you helping my newbies and leading by example. On Friday night when my lawn looks like it’s full of sniper victims, it’s my sick sweaty version of heaven. I love when Jesse is pulling the trigger so I can WOD with my nooners once again.

E2 is EK and Crespo is now Coach moving together as 1Force for the WOD of our lives. It’s our ultimate goal for our clients to have a better, happier and healthier tomorrow.

And it’s already happening. After their very first WOD, they stand taller and have more confidence. As they start to achieve milestones,their achievement becomes ours. I’ll forever cherish Penny’s a-ha moment when she turned to me after her second WOD and said, “I’ve been looking for something like this for my whole life.

Well said Penny. I was thinking the same damn thing. The best news of all is that we have only just begun.


Autism Awareness Day

•April 2, 2011 • 3 Comments

The smartest people I know. In one picture.

Wednesday, Jack was eating an 8-pack of Oreos from the vending machine at Rainbow Gymnastics. I asked him for a bite and was flat-out ignored. I repeated the ask. Again I was met with busy lips busily crunching and covered in crumbs. No verbal response. I asked a third time.

Finally his eyes met mine, filled with pure annoyance. In a very disgusted tone, he spat out the following question.

“Why can’t you just let me eat me and my for to you your own snack?”

(Go ahead. Read it out loud. It’s worth it.)

I tried not to laugh and told him to wipe his face. He shot his little tongue out in quick circle around his lips and chin and walked off to lead some toddler friends in a Matchbox race.

I marveled at the hilarity of the moment. Sitting in crowded bleachers with groups full of children and parents, I was repeatedly asking my kid for a bite of his Oreo. Not really to get one, but to try to get him to look in my eye and offer me a meaningful response.

The professional parents of the skilled and toned gymnasts probably saw a speech-delayed four-year old too stingy to share. Little did they know this seven-point-five-year old warrior has earned more gold medals and vaulted more hurdles than their princesses would in ten lifetimes.


He learned how to love.

He learned how to kiss.

He learned how to speak.

He learned how to touch.

He learned how to cope.

He learned how to wait.

He learned how to negotiate.

He learned how to be a friend.

And most importantly, he learned how to be happy.

Today is Autism Awareness Day. At the KellyGood house, everyday is Autism Awareness day because we are all painfully aware that Jack has to LEARN how to do things that come naturally to other kids.

For littles like Jack, the intensity of human interaction is like a raging fire threatening to remove their skin. To remain safe and burn-free, they STOP DROP AND ROLL away, avoiding the deadly blaze at all costs. It’s only if they are coached, coaxed, taught, sought, pushed and pulled towards the danger can they learn that it’s anything but. The warmth of human love and interaction can reach even the most remote little victim of Autism. Eventually.

He learned how to be funny too.

We are aware of Autism everyday. But thankfully, it has made us aware of the wonder and the joy created by overcoming adversity, of the appreciation we have in ordinary achievements that for Jack are extraordinary and of how much sweeter success is when it is truly earned. I’m also aware that first-grader attitude (albeit a little awkward) is a rite of passage my boy is entitled to.

Besides, I really don’t like Oreos that much anyway.

Do Work

•January 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The only way to win is to do more work faster.

Winning means something unique to everyone.  For some, it might be a sub-six Fran time. For others, it’s respectably placing at Crossfit Sectionals-Regionals-World Games. To most, it’s doing all WODs as Rxed. Whatever the goal is, each minute of all of our lives is so precious, that if we are not making the most of every glorious second we have to work out, then why workout at all?

I had just one cheat day over the last 14. A spree of lifting with 75 pounds. Light, fast and a lot of fucking fun.

Hence the Crossfit GO-HARD-OR-GO-HOME mentality. Every day will not be your best, every lift will not be PRed, but show up ready to do work and you will be one more step closer to achieving your goals, whatever they may be.

Tomorrow marks an important step in my quest to live life as Rxd. I am having both of my hernias repaired, and as if on cue, enter stage left a 12-inch snowstorm. If this ish gets cancelled I am going to really hurt someone. And if the roads are too bad to drive, I am going to walk to Underwood Memorial Hospital. Uphill. Both ways. In the snow. Wearing a weight vest.

I love weight vests. I have a really cool 12-pounder that straps around my shoulders I like to use for pull ups and push ups. Another 20-pounder is not so cool looking but I use it for walking and short runs. It looks more like a bullet proof vest. I’m hoping it doubles as one should a Fairway Sniper try and take me out while I’m headed out to burn some calories during my 4-6 week recovery.

Which is about how long I’ve been out of the box, and it is literally crushing me. I went in yesterday to ship some love to my beast and buy some Steve’s Original for myself. It was like coming home after a month-long crappy business trip only to repack my bags and leave again. Klibbs and her adorable belly were there to greet me, along with KTo and Pattycakes. Lee was there and she rocked out a big hug. KTo? Nah. She only hugs when she’s loaded.

Beauty in Motion

And speaking of, ValFEST was quite the success. All Val’s worlds collided as her parents met her Tribe met her Mafia. I made so many new friends who I can’t wait to see again. These chicks really know how to Party. And Dance. And Drink. And run with scissors…

Cutting back on the partying now.

Most of my fitness (or lack there of) occurs in my mouth and not in the gym, so it’s time to do the only thing I can. Eat clean and sleep. After three c-sections, I know how to recover from abdominal surgery pretty effectively. DO NOTHING—and I mean NOTHING—for one week. Little to NOTHING for the second. By the third, I’ll be ready for a walk. By the fourth, I’ll be in the 12-pound weight vest, and the fifth I’ll be ready for the 20. Hopefully on the sixth week, I’ll bring Jack-in-the-box.

He really misses everyone, and that was obvious on Saturday night. He greeted Pat with a leg-bear hug, and he tortured Jack H. into never having children. I was very proud of my little party boy and his awkward social skills. He seemed to have a really good time.

As did Greengas. Who showed up at 1:15 am in her typical bizarre fashion to make the night complete. She robotted a bit, we traded a few laughs and she was on her way. She really does rule the world. My original nooner, we met two years ago in the old box, and I don’t see her often enough. Another easily achieved item on the goal list. Rachel and I actually eyed Jesse together on his first day at Tribe. “New guy is hot,” one of us said. I’m not sure who it was at this point, but I’d bet it was me.

Thanks to everyone who came, conquered and carried in food and cake. See you for Half ValFEST on or about July twenty-tooth. Bring your  bathing suit.

Wish me luck as I go under the knife for the fourth time in my life. The first three times, I had little-THINGS ONE, TWO and THREE removed. The fourth time, I had big-THINGS ONE AND TWO put in. Tomorrow, two little mesh things will be sewn over two big hernias, and I shall be complete.

Ready to do more work faster. For the WIN.


•January 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

She loves the dreadmill.

What could be worse than running on a treadmill? WALKING ON A TREADMILL. And thanks to hernia squared, that’s all I’m supposed to do. Supposedly anyway. Or as my Baby Daddy would say, supposebly.

Tonight’s WOD was a 60-minute met con on the treadmill including intervals of walking/running with 20-pound weight vest. When you are used to 15 minute AMRAPs, 60 minutes is an eternity. I looked at the timer at 25 minutes and thought, if this was a chipper, I’d be ready to PUKE. Meanwhile, I was barely sweating. I sprinted a 400 at the end, just to be a little bad ass. If Pat and Ann can do one-limbed WODs, then I can run a little, right?

For the next two weeks anyway. I’m having both hernias repaired fourteen days from now. I’ll be out of work for two weeks, and out of the box for six, best case scenario. So, if I run a little, shoot me. Literally. Cause I miss my Tribe so much I just might shoot myself!

Turns out the abdominal hernia I have is very rare, especially in chicks. It is a Spigelian Hernia. It does not lie below the fat but between the muscles of the abdominal wall. Therefore, there is no notable swelling. Which explains why I did not know I had it until a piece of my intestine leapt through it. Luckily for me, I was sitting in front of Val’s house while she was holding my hair, and I felt no pain as I shoved it back in. I thought my stomach flipped inside out. But that’s another story in itself….

Santa gave Jesse a rope. And he's teaching his Saudi beasts how to climb it. I'm next!

Spigelian hernias are usually small and therefore risk of bowel strangulation and rupture is high. The doctor wanted to take it out six days after I met him, but I can not be laid up next weekend. I’m busy, and good thing there will be a doctor in the HOUSE. I gotta party on the twenty-tooth, so the surgery settled on the twenty-seventh. Much like when Jesse got notice of his deployment, bring it on. The sooner it gets done the sooner I get back to the box. Don’t forget me friends…

You gotta do what you gotta do.

Don’t forget my beast either. He is happy and safe, crushing WODs, training friends and giving away the chocolate-covered blueberries I send him in the mail to keep his bod sugar free. Those little shits are ridiculous. Crack-like. Calling my name at the Wegman’s check out, they barely made it safely to KTo, who lovingly packs up Jesse’s stuff and sends it for me.

I’m sending her loving birthday wishes as she enters her late 20s tomorrow. There’s an epic bash in her honor tomorrow night, which unfortunately I am not up for, but I will be there in spirit. I remember my twenty-sixth like it was last week, and I felt so very old! Love ya kid. No worries on getting older. Keep hanging out with me and you’ll be FOREVER YOUNG.

Whine Warning: Click At Your Own Risk

•January 6, 2011 • 3 Comments

Hiatus. It’s pronounced Hi-ate-us. I feels like I-hate-this. It means an interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc. A missing part or a gap. A break, a vacation.

Resting ain't cute, but she sure is rocking the Calvin Klein fleece I bought Jesse at lunch today. It was marked down to 9.99. I'm going to need a shopping sponsor to get me through the lonely lunch hours without my TRIBE.

To a CrossFitter who works out on vacation, a hiatus only means one thing. INJURY. We often try to ignore the nagging, pulling, stabbing pains we have, because we know what it means. Rest–or WORSE. Surgery, followed by more rest. Followed by one-legged squats, one-armed kettlebell swings or subbing rowing for running, box jumping or double unders. Taking a body part out of the equation adds up to anything but functional fitness.

Especially if your body is minus a core. Monday I found out I have not one, but two hernias. WTF. Could some higher power be telling me I need an interruption in the continuity of my action? I’d like to ignore the hell out of that power and continue to get high off my CrackFit, but I learned that lesson last month. Ignoring a sign can mean the difference between life and death.

“No running, no weight lifting, no crunches,” said my doctor matter of factly. “Just walking until 2-3 months after your surgery.”

The poor guy had no idea what he was saying to me. I can explain CrossFit, but until someone does it, sees it, or feels the second day after their first workout, it’s not easily understood. He did not know his news was robbing me of my stress relief, my social life and my lunch hour. He pushed my 2011 goals back a good six months. He spilled my Kool Aid.

Monday night, I cried actual tears into my pillow until I passed out. I woke up with a headache on Tuesday. I have had it ever since.

On Wednesday I bought a heavier weight vest to walk in. My 12-pound one is just not gonna cut it. My doctor did not say that I could not pack on 20 pounds and walk around for hours, so that’s basically what I’m going to do. When it’s too icy, I’m gonna jack my treadmill to the highest incline and climb to the top. Problem is, I usually roll it out when I want to use it. Now I need my brother to come over and move it for me. I’m not allowed to move heavy shit.

Here’s the part where I usually insert some witty lesson about what I learned and how it’s going to make me a better and much stronger athlete. Problem is, I’m just not there yet. Adding insult to injury, I got a flat tire today.

I’ll hit the brakes on this bitch session, but only because they still work. This too shall pass. My kids are healthy. My guy is safe. My Mom is surviving through a crushing loss. I’m trying to keep the whining about my hiatus to a minimum. Maybe that’s why my head feels as if it is going to explode.

Just this morning, I joked to a colleague that my life was like a bad country song. All I needed was my truck to break down. As if on cue, the check tire pressure light went on after lunch.


Onto the next 1-1

•December 30, 2010 • 1 Comment

Lately my life does not feel as if it is my own. It’s more like a movie, and I’m just a character. I forget conversations as if they were dropped lines from a script—or cut scenes from the full-length version only to be seen as extras on the special edition DVD.

I remember flashes of the past month. Snippets of time are blended and blurred together like a painful yet sometimes beautiful haze. The grace of my mother, the bond of my brothers, the love of my partner and the text support from my favorite nurses and doctor will never be forgotten.

I got by with a little help.

I can recall the generosity of friends bringing trays of food and boxes of beer, spreading rose petals and hair-love all over 1034.

I remember late-night visits from my Tribers who came to decorate, clean, babysit and entertain when I had no energy left for the littles who needed me as desperately as I needed them.

Ingrained in my soul are the final moments of my father’s life, as I was consumed by relief and grief like a simultaneous tidal wave, forever changing the shoreline of my identity.

I walked through the Deptford Mall with a blank stare just days after my Dad died, wondering how lights could be flashing and people could be deal hunting. I was searching for funeral best, because Joe Kelly loved a new suit. I could actually feel the sadness on my face like a thick mask.

I see so many Kellys and Levengoods in this face.

As I skyped Jesse this morning, he said I looked beautiful and the pain in my face was finally lifting. I smiled at the irony of the physical pain I was in from my first day of heavy lifting, which was yesterday. Today, I am reminded of my four-week sabbatical every time I shift, stand or sit. I was back at Tribe last week, but it was a de-load week, and I only made it in twice.

After a warm up with my favorite apple slicer, Rosemary and I settled in at the back rack to push jerk together. This was perfect because we were both easing back into the box. I approached the bar with aggression and intention and worked my way up to my previous one rep max with ease. I threw up 115 rather easily and was ready for a new PR at 120. After almost getting it, I had an epic fail temper tantrum where I actually threw the bar as I threw my favorite obscenity. I looked up at Apple-Lee bottom as if I was going to be in trouble.

“It’s alright,” Lee said. “You almost had it.” My behavior was not at Tribely, but she cut me a break. If we all threw bars every time we missed lifts we’d be in heap of broken-toe trouble. I won’t be doing that again. Rosemary was kind enough to catch it on video so I can enjoy my maturity for all time. My last temper tantrum occurred in June on a missed squat clean, and the video clip is still giving joy to Jess and RB to this day.

The met con was an 8-minute AMRAP of 5 pull-ups and 12 lunges with 50 pounds. My glutes are dead from the effort, but it feels good to be alive in the gym yet again. Eight rounds and five pull-ups later, that shit was thankfully over.  The last lunge of every round was beyond excruciating.

The best week of 2010

I’m looking forward to the New Year and my favorite 3-on-1 off schedule. I must be ready for mid-March and the return of my beast who has been eating two to three WODs daily as if they were perfectly balanced zone meals. Oh yeah, and he’s been doing that too. I’m very thankful that he is safe and as happy as he can be several time zones away from the people he loves.

Who I will be visiting for New Year’s weekend. The littles are with Baby Daddy, so up to Connecticut I roll. As I’ve struggled to take care of my family, the Crespos helped to take care of me, always checking in, making me laugh and entertaining me the weekend after the funeral. I can’t think of a better way to start 2011.

I’m gonna hit stop on this sad DVD of 2010—and replace it with The Hangover. It’s my favorite comedy to watch with Janel and usually the way I feel after partying with Jesse’s family. They are the glittery lining of the last 12 months.  I have grown my wolfpack, Puerto Rican style. I just can’t let Janel drink or gamble. Jesus, she’s like a Gremlin. Comes with instructions and shit.

Losing a parent does not come with instructions. We all did the best we could, and I am pretty damn proud of us. We honored our father’s wishes while respecting each other’s. We pretty much called off gifts on Christmas and instead celebrated with love, laughter and memories.

My father’s last gift to me came on Christmas and was completely unexpected. I bought him a lap top in November after my divorce was final to thank him for all the support he offered to me over the year-long battle. Stupidly, I saved it for Christmas. When he was in the hospital, I announced I would present it when he regained consciousness. Tragically, that never happened.

Several times I asked myself why I waited. I so regretted not seeing him boot it up proudly for the first time. My Dad never had a lap top, and still operated a 12-year old tower machine without complaint that moved at a snail-like pace. “It’s a great computer,” he would say.

I gave the lap top to my nephew on Christmas, and once again said how sad I was that Pop never got to use it. A little grin spread across my mother’s lips as she confessed that she had told my father before he got sick that the lap top was coming. Turns out, he was looking at computers for fun, contemplating a new one. Not wanting to spoil the surprise, but wanting to slow down his thought process, she gently hinted that one was coming. After some not-so-gentle prodding, she told my Dad that I had bought the lap top.

They didn't wait! On Christmas Eve, my G gave me a BabyG via skype, and the oldest LevenG gave me a matching cocktail ring from the sweetest school store.

My heart absolutely sang at this news. My Dad knew how much I appreciated him and the hours he spent at the slug computer researching, writing, adding and emailing. He never saw his thank you gift, but he knew it was coming. For me, the anticipation of a great gift is often better than the gift itself. We are a lot alike, so I can only hope he felt the same way.

One thing is certain. I’ll never wait again. This life is too short. Love, forgiveness and gratitude are all gifts I will give away. Not on Christmas Day.

But everyday.

•December 20, 2010 • 2 Comments

Thank you for coming to celebrate the life of my father, Joe Kelly. Over the past two weeks, friends have reached out to offer love and support. Everyone has been truly AMAZING. I am honored to speak to you today about the greatest man I have ever met.

Instead of my words, I would like to offer you some of yours. Friends have called, text, and talked to my family about my Dad. These words have given us great comfort, and I hope they give you some as we remember my magnificent father today.

I’ll begin with the cutest of all Joe Kell fans, my daughter Kelly Claire who said, “I love Pop-Pop, and everybody loves him. Pop-Pop is the greatest.”

My Dad loved his children and grandchildren with a fierce and fiery passion. He drove cross-country to surprise us at college, spent countless hours on the speed line to satisfy his little train lovers, and ordered his tiniest shortstops custom jerseys with their parent’s collegiate names on the front and numbers on the back. He existed for his children and his grandchildren—especially Collin, who lives with my parents. My Dad loved in such a way that he craved to be needed, and they very much-needed each other over the last 14 years. I know Collin is extra-special because he was the first in the line up, and he gave my Dad the gift of showing him what it was like to be a Grandfather. My parents are two grandchildren away from a starting line up, and I know my Dad will be coaching from heaven making sure they throw right, bat left and have a work ethic unmatched by most.

My Dad’s close friend Lloyd Lunemann said, “Joe Kelly was the most intense man I have ever met.”

When my Dad was working on a project, sleep was not a priority. He’d work around the clock to make sure his facts were straight and his argument was just. If he loved something, he made ten pounds of it to give one pound each to his friends. If someone he loved needed something, my Dad did not need to be asked. He was there.

For three years, he built his dream house with his own two hands. Several times he talked about calling contractors, but never did. He plugged away month after month, teaching himself to perform the trades he did not know to insure things were done right and energy-efficient. Just before he died, he insisted on making my house more efficient, and I humored him, thinking he might save ne 20-50 dollars each month on my PSEG bill. What was traditionally 600-800 dollars came in last week at $350. I raced to the hospital to tell him. I know he was proud.

Our dear Sean McKenna said, “Your Dad was like my agent when I was looking for colleges. He sold me like I could have never sold myself.”

It did not matter or not if your last name was Kelly. If you were a kid, and my Dad liked you, he was going to help. Researching and contacting colleges was a talent of my father’s, and he could get through any gatekeeper to any coach to throw in his two cents. He could have made a living counseling kids on how to get in college, but he gave all that he had and asked for nothing in return. Especially to those bearing his last name or sporting Gloucester Catholic baseball jerseys.

My Dad’s close friend Ron Villanova said, “Joe was younger than me, but I thought of him as a big brother because he taught me so much. He helped me hold my tongue in tense situations.”

My father could make a brilliant argument. Back it up with weeks of research, colorful charts, and fact-based data-driven testimony. We often say he missed his calling and would have made a terrific lawyer. He knew what to say and how to say it. He covered his back and his tracks and worked to ensure things were fair for those that he loved. He fought for Collin’s benefits with a system that overlooks children who are in need. He proved that his home was being over taxed and enjoyed a significant decrease on his yearly bill. He helped me through a legal battle by schooling himself in the law and researching into the wee hours of the morning for months. Time was not a limiting factor when preparing for battle, and Joe Kelly was always prepared.

My Dad’s best friend Dennis Barth said, “A lot of people think they are smart, but Joe Kelly really was. He knew a whole lot about a whole lot of things. He was as good of friend as you could have.”

My Dad was freakishly smart, and he enjoyed sharing his knowledge. He even impressed doctors in the hospital with his knowledge of what meds he was taking and how they would interact in his system. Knowledge was power to my Dad and he stopped at nothing to obtain it. And as Dennis said, if you were his friend, anything he had or anything he knew was yours if you ever needed it.

My friend Jeffery Kaufman said, “Your dad made everyone better at what they did. Not just his own kids, but everybody. He threw us BP in his work clothes because he would not waste the time to get changed. That’s who he was.”

My Dad loved to coach anyone who was willing to learn. Before we were born, he coached Bellmawr Purple Eagles football. Some may think installing a batting cage in the back yard complete with a JUGGS machine would be too much. But not my Dad. He burst with pride as Gloucester Catholic’s finest took BP on his property.

A nurse at Lady of Lourdes who never heard my father’s voice said, “Your father was great man. I can always tell the great ones by their family.”

My father would have been the most proud of this statement. We stayed by his side because he would have done the same for us. My father stopped at nothing to ensure our safety and well-being.

My Aunt Janice said, “Your Dad had a work ethic like I’ve never seen. He worked so hard to build a life for his family. I always admired his career drive.”

Janice worked for my Dad at this first retail store where he led the men’s division. One day, Janice was standing behind a table. My Dad walked over to her and started folding shirts. He said, “Janice, we have to be busy, even when we think we are not. There is always something to do.”

My Dad’s neighbor, sweet Helen Barth, “The world needs Joe Kelly.”

No words have ever been more true. We need more selfless people walking this Earth. Mrs. Barth tragically lost a son recently and my Dad was delivering meals and visiting with his dear neighbor while her son had to go to work. There was nowhere else he wanted to be at that moment. He was not too busy or wrapped up in his own agenda to show someone in need a personal kindness.

My brother Brian said, “Magnificent Dad. You are magnificent.”

These were the last words my brother gave my father. For me, they helped shape the theme of his memorial because they were so appropriate. Our Dad was magnificent when he came bursting through the door to play with us after work, when he cooked us huge dinners and destroyed my mother’s kitchen and when he drove ten hours straight to watch one of our college games.  He gave us a magnificent life and in turn, he had one. Only because he knew we had everything we needed and wanted.

My Mother said, “I’m not going to cry, because Joe told me to be strong. Just look at his children. He did a great job. They love him so much.”

I’d be remiss if I did not touch upon my mother, who allowed my Dad to be all that he could be over the last 40 years by supporting him with a quiet grace that inspires me on a daily basis. She has shown more dignity and class over the past two weeks than most do in a lifetime. While we should have been carrying her, she was carrying us. Losing our father is the most painful thing we have ever experienced, but the four of us shared a moment when he passed that was so beautiful it absolutely eases our grief. And as it has been for the past 40 years, the moment was led by Joe and supported by Maureen, who both still allow us to be children even as we approach mid-life.

I’ll close with Joe Kelly’s words. “Erin. I have not always agreed with your decisions, but I have supported you through everyone.”

It occurred to me at that moment that this is what good parenting and loyal friendship is all about. Unconditional support was what Joe Kelly had to offer all of his loved ones each and every day of his life.

Like my Kelly Claire said, being a good Dad is about love. Like McKenna said, it’s about selling your kid like they were the first kid to ever be born. Like Ron said, it’s about holding your tongue, even when it’s KILLING you. Like Dennis said, it’s about being smart and being a good friend. Like Jeffery said it’s about not wasting time on needless change in the constant pursuit to make your child better. Like the nurse said it’s about being a great person. Like Helen said it’s about being the world to those who need you. Like my big brother said, it’s about being magnificent.

And like my angel mother said, it’s about being strong through the tears, looking at your children, and always doing your best job. Even if you make a mistake or two along the way, they will LOVE you regardless.

My final words to Joe Kelly will not be spoken today. In fact, they will never be spoken. I will always rely on his influence, and even if I do not make his decision, I guarantee I would know what he would want me to do in any given situation. I will continue to talk to him. For the first time in 37 years, I can honestly say I am tremendously devastated that he will not be talking back.

And even though his voice will not be audible, I will hear Joe Kelly’s words. Forever.

Daddy, May the road rise to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine upon your face. May the rains fall gently upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.