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Kevin O'Toole, left, and Kevin O'Toole, Jr. (Photo: Kevin O'Toole).

The O’Toole Chronicles: These are the Days

By Kevin O'Toole, May 17 2022 12:01 am

These are the days of the endless summer
These are the days, the time is now
There is no past, there is only future
There’s only here, there’s only now
-These are the Days – Van Morrison

I vividly recall hearing this song while watching the movie, Nine Months, in 1995. The scene had a crying baby being soothed by a dad and mom as he cried into the night. As the parents watched over, this song played in the background, the child quieted down as both parents found peace and harmony. That moment stayed with me and oddly enough, first got me thinking about fatherhood.

Fast forward – our son is graduating from Seton Hall Law School on June 1st and I can’t believe the day is here. The past 25 years have been amazing in so many ways. I would be incredibly stupid if I didn’t round out the story by stating that my 22 year old daughter (who cried less and actually slept through the night) is more than half way through obtaining her Master’s Degree.  We couldn’t be more honored to be their parents and are in awe of who they have become.

What is the point?

I remember graduating from law school in 1989 and I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. Having just secured my first election victory on May 9th, I knew that I had politics in my blood and in my future. How could I make it all work?

Somehow I found my way and balanced my legal profession with the political one, wrapped around the profound personal one that involved a once in a lifetime partner in my wife, Bethany, and two in a lifetime children, Kevin Jr. and Ryan Marie. Talk about living the American Dream.

I think all too often we don’t reflect on the gifts before us and acknowledge that the journey has been worth the ride, even when it was hard to do it all or when it sometimes felt difficult. Unless you lived it, it is truly hard to appreciate the work/life balance and especially when you throw in the sometimes all-consuming side gig of politics. Along the way you learn a bit and I pass along some life lessons.

To my son and daughter and to all the graduates out there, a few words of advice-

  • Don’t be timid or afraid;
  • Have fun;
  • Question authority, but be respectful;
  • Tap into the vast experience of your parents and others that are more experienced;
  • Find something you love to do and pursue it with all your energy;
  • Be charitable and kind  (this one took me a while and I’m making up for it now);
  • Get up every morning and appreciate what you have;
  • Find a partner and do right by them—every minute of every day;
  • Turn off your phone from time to time and appreciate the quiet;
  • Don’t let social media impact you at all — eliminate negative forces in your life.

These are the days now that we must savor
And we must enjoy as we can
These are the days that will last forever
You’ve got to hold them in your heart

Van Morrison

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