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Love and honesty will get us through
Tom Purcell
Tom Purcell

It was a family event for the ages.

Last weekend, my family traveled to Gettysburg to attend my nephew’s wedding.

I drove my mother down Friday so she could participate in the rehearsal. We had a wonderful drive talking about a variety of things, mostly stories about my father, who we lost last year.

After the rehearsal, we attended a welcome party, where we had great fun catching up with my cousins and other family members.

The room was filled with intense joy. Every person there was experiencing it, for the simple and wonderful reason that two very beautiful souls — my nephew Elliott and his beautiful fiancé Catherine — would be united as one the following day.

We’ve all been to weddings in which we think: “I give this couple two weeks!”

My nephew’s wedding was the polar opposite: He and “Cat” were meant to be — and I think I know why.

It’s because of my father.

My father had a difficult childhood, losing his own father when he was only 3. His mother went to work, and he was often alone. He drifted until he found a father figure in his football coach — and until he met a pretty young lady named Betty Jane Hartner.

He was only 17 when that happened, but it was lights out for him the moment his eyes met hers.

He told me many times that he didn’t know how he would do it, but he was going to marry that girl — and his greatest accomplishment in his long life was that he made it happen.

Man, did my father adore my mother. Marriage is hard, and there were lots of ups and downs over many years, but one thing was constant: My father adored my mother until the day he died.

His second greatest accomplishment was that he was one of the most honest and authentic human beings to walk this planet, and he deeply infused his honesty, integrity and authenticity into all six of his children.

Honesty and authenticity are what drew my brothers-in-law to my sisters.

My brothers-in-law and I enjoyed some beers late into the evening last Saturday, and they talked again about how the Purcell girls drew them in because their hearts were so big and their souls were so honest and full of love.

My brothers-in-law were drawn to my sisters because they were of like mind and soul — their wonderful parents infused in them a deep honesty and authenticity, and gave to me the five hilarious brothers I never had!

My sisters and their husbands had many children, and the authenticity that was infused in them was passed on to their kids.

My nephew Elliott is as deeply authentic as my father, and his wonderful, honest spirit attracted an amazing young woman whose soul is pure joy and beauty — and when Elliott met her, it was, as it was for my father 72 years ago, lights out.

Look, events in the news are mostly negative. Our politics and civil discourse appear to be broken. It’s easy to succumb to despair.

But when you attend a wedding as beautiful as I did, all hope is restored.

Great civilizations are built on the backs of giants, like my father, whose greatest contribution to the world was the deep love he had for my mother and the simple virtues he and his bride passed on to their children.

Our civilization is going to be just fine, I know, because my nephew Elliott and his stunning bride have picked up the mantle.

Purcell, creator of the infotainment site, which features pet advice he’s learning from his beloved Labrador, Thurber, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Email him at