Susan and Kevin Flynn
The other morning I checked my cell phone which had been recharging over night. I found four missed messages from my brother and the attendant voice mails. When a family member calls multiple times in short succession, it is never happy news. " Pat, Mom took a fall. We are at Palos (hospital),." my Mom had a knee and hip replacement over the last two years. She is a very fit and healthy 87.
I was happy to learn that the fall damaged her right-side hip joint which was the God-given device and not on the artificial ball and joint left side, as artificial components tend to really damage bones and sinews.
Happy is the word. Was her fall merely fortunate?
Now, I can't work a home improvement job without a gun to my head, but I can reach into the old reading tool box to try and sheet-rock life's pains . . .somewhat. I have been reading Herodatus' Histories, since the 4th of July. I went back over the encounter between Solon, a really smart Greek and Croesus a really rich Greek. Solon was a visiting Athenian smart guy to the Sardian court of Croesus, who demanded that he was the happiest man in the world because he was the richest. Solon argued that one can only determine another man's happiness upon death. Solon held to the notion that Croesus was merely fortunate, lucky. Hey, You are really wealthy; that's nice. You are the king of Sardis, which is like being President of the United States, which is nice, but so what ?
The smart guy explained, " For in the course of long time a man may see many things which he would not desire to see, and suffer also many things which he would not desire to suffer. The limit of life for a man I lay down at seventy years: and these seventy years give twenty-five thousand and two hundred days, not reckoning for any intercalated month. Then if every other one of these years shall be made longer by one month, that the seasons may be caused to come round at the due time of the year, the intercalated months will be in number five-and-thirty besides the seventy years; and of these months the days will be one thousand and fifty. Of all these days, being in number twenty-six thousand two hundred and fifty, which go to the seventy years, one day produces nothing at all which resembles what another brings with it. Thus then, O Croesus, man is altogether a creature of accident. As for thee, I perceive that thou art both great in wealth and king of many men, but that of which thou didst ask me I cannot call thee yet, until I learn that thou hast brought thy life to a fair ending: for the very rich man is not at all to be accounted more happy than he who has but his subsistence from day to day, unless also the fortune go with him of ending his life well in possession of all things fair. For many very wealthy men are not happy, while many who have but a moderate living are fortunate; and in truth the very rich man who is not happy has two advantages only as compared with the poor man who is fortunate, whereas this latter has many as compared with the rich man who is not happy. The rich man is able better to fulfil his desire, and also to endure a great calamity if it fall upon him; whereas the other has advantage over him in these things which follow:—he is not indeed able equally with the rich man to endure a calamity or to fulfil his desire, but these his good fortune keeps away from him, while he is sound of limb, free from disease, untouched by suffering, the father of fair children and himself of comely form; and if in addition to this he shall end his life well, he is worthy to be called that which thou seekest, namely a happy man; but before he comes to his end it is well to hold back and not to call him yet happy but only fortunate. Now to possess all these things together is impossible for one who is mere man, just as no single land suffices to supply all tings for itself, but one thing it has and another it lacks, and the land that has the greatest number of things is the best: so also in the case of a man, no single person is complete in himself, for one thing he has and another he lacks; but whosoever of men continues to the end in possession of the greatest number of these things and then has a gracious ending of his life, he is by me accounted worthy, O king, to receive this name. But we must of every thing examine the end and how it will turn out at the last, for to many God shows but a glimpse of happiness and then plucks them up by the roots and overturns them."
Kevin Flynn lived for forty-six years. He was very fortunate. His Dad, Donald F. Flynn, amassed what we would call a fortune. Kevin went to great Catholic schools ( Fenwick and Marquette University). Married a beautiful and unspoiled woman, Susan. Fathered four beautiful and unspoiled children. He could have lived for the next Bulls Skybox, VIP treatment everywhere, lorded his fortune and luck over his staff and generally lived the life that leads to scandal without consequence and dismissive self-satisfaction. That is Pagan stuff.
Herodatus too was a Before the Common Era Pagan, but wrote of God the Unchanged. God the Unchanged is the same one we worship. Kevin Flynn worship the Triune God through Christ with his short life.
Kevin Flynn did not live like a Celebrity Pagan. Kevin Flynn picked up his father's Catholic moral tool-set and tried to make life better for those less fortunate than Kevin Flynn. One should be regarded as one treats people regardless of bank account, vocation or circumstance. A great person never needs to ask, " Do you know who I am?" A great and happy person asks, " How can I help?"
Kevin asked to serve on Leo High School's Advisory Board after his his Dad went home to Christ. The Leo Advisory Board is not sexy appointment. With the sole exception of Tamara Holder, it is comprised of happy men who were schooled here on 79th Street in the values of giving back without the applause of Chicago Magazine, or WTTW. The work of making a Catholic education a possibility for young men from Englewood, Gresham, Brainard, Grand Crossing, Bronzeville and Canaryville whose families are not financially fortunate is Herculean. The rewards are Olympian.
We received the news of Kevin Flynn's accident with all of the sadness attendant to a death in the family. Kevin's devoted helper Linda Eichorn contacted Leo President Dan McGrath with this terrible news. We know Kevin's wife Susan and the four children, especially the boys Donny and Brendan. Moreso, we know Kevin's mother Beverly who not only had her love Don called home to Christ, but now her son.
We know loss. Last year one of our freshman, Antonio Davis, was slaughtered by a thug shortly before the start of the school year. Kevin was one of the first to call Dan McGrath to ask how he could help Antonio's family. A few weeks later, senior Miles Turner was shot five times by another urban savage and struggled from a coma and heroically managed to stand once again, but remains confined to a wheel chair. Again, Kevin Flynn stepped up to help another suffering family.
Kevin Flynn was a happy man. That he was fortunate enough to be wealthy was a matter of some consequence, I suppose.
He was happy in his family and in his work. Kevin Flynn treated everyone with respect, dignity and manly concern, even those who tried and continue to demand to define him. That is evident in the sadness, universal.
We live in an age where envy is somehow dignified by what passes for culture and politics. Life is as precious to a fortunate family as it is to the more challenged of us. Loss is as painfully evident in six and seven figure families as it is in working man's tribe. Kevin's father was a very happy man. Kevin Flynn learned to be a very happy man. His sons and daughters will be helped by the loving family and friends of the Family Flynn to be happy persons.
My Mom is doing fine; she continues to be lucky, despite another hip replacement surgery, a fractured elbow and a fractured ankle. Mom is 87 years lucky and happy. Kevin Flynn was 46 years happy.