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Sometimes people come into your life, stick around and make impressions upon you that you didn’t even realize existed.They help to guide you along and their advice is invaluable. As we journey through this adventure called life, we are sometimes fortunate enough to have people, aside from family and friends, who influence us and help to mold us into the people that we eventually become.

Some use the word “mentor” to describe this person, who is an advisor and gives counsel to another, guiding them along. The name “mentor” comes from Greek mythology and refers to a friend of Odysseus and tutor of Telemachus and whose name has become synonymous with true and faithful advisor.

Sometimes, we seek out this mentor, and sometimes, fate brings us to their doorstep. I arrived on this person’s doorstep in the form of a college kid looking for a job. I was seamlessly integrated into his world,  he helped to foster me along and maneuver into and through the confusing, trying and exhausting jungle of law school and see me out on the other side with the title “Esq.” attached to my name.

Through many, many years, our paths crossed again and again, our families became entangled — I watched his daughters grow and turn into beautiful strong women who continue to make their father proud each and every day and he watched my family grow through marriage and children. All along that journey, I learned….a lot from him, most of which did not become apparent until many years later.

Even after I left his employ, returned  and then left again to move to Vermont, we kept in touch. Phone calls most often since he wasn’t one for emails or cell phones – a little traditional or you might even say old fashioned. He taught me in a lot of ways how to be a good person and a good lawyer — he was both mentor and father-figure when my own dad passed suddenly. Quite honestly, in addition to my own dad and my husband,  he was the only other man who could call me “kiddo” and elicit a smile and not a punch.

The last time we spoke was a year ago today, on his birthday. He had of all things, just gotten back from the Peace Corps (if you knew him, this would not in any way surprise you) after retiring from the law. Less than two weeks later, I got a phone call from his wife letting me know that he had passed away, suddenly from an infection he contracted while overseas. I cried… a lot. In a lot of ways it was almost like I had lost my own father all over again. He was there through a lot of the ups and downs of my life and I was gratified to label him my mentor and proud to call him a dear friend. I  hope that my children are fortunate enough to find someone to enter their lives and impart upon them the same attention, knowledge and respect that I was lucky to have.

 Happy Birthday JDH – Rest in peace. I think of you often and miss you just as much.

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