So my Vernola cousins – 4 men who I have known since they were born – are both very much the same and each very unique. Each one has made my life (and my great kid’s life) better and they hold a special place in my heart as part of a very small group of relatives who mean the world to me.
Michael, the oldest, is a multi-talented director and a devoted husband and father to 3 fantastic boys. He opens up his home and includes us in every birthday party and, for many years, their Thanksgiving celebration which was always topped off with various cousins wearing crazy hats and singing bawdy songs. His family is his life and I’m glad to be a tangential part of that family. He was one of the last people to spend time with my Dad and I will always remember because it meant so much to my Mom and me.
Rob is one of the funniest people I know and has always treated my great kid with compassion and included him as part of the fraternity of Vernola boys. When Rob worked at the late lamented show “The Best Week Ever”, he let us know to watch one night because he had slipped my great kid’s name into the credits that rolled at the end of the show. I can’t even tell you how much that meant and how we still talk about it. He now hosts Thanksgiving and he and his wife and kids (who are so gifted in music and art) always makes sure to see that we are included. It’s one of the most joyous days of the year for us.
Dan is the man. He’s silly and the best teacher one could hope to have. He is tireless and witty and handsome and charming. And he finally met the love of his life, the great Adrian, and they were married the day before Thanksgiving, giving us even more reason to be thankful last year. His joy for living life to its fullest is infectious and makes you want to be part of his orbit.
Nick, the youngest, is beyond smart and incredibly hard working. When my great kid was going through a tough time, he made a point to reach out to him to let him know that he had someone to talk to. When you grow up an only child to know you have a big brother surrogate to talk to is so important and Nick has done that for my son. His wife, Sarah, is the sweetheart you are happy to know, the person who always writes thank you notes and who you can sit down with and get lost in a great conversation.
Their parents (and their story is coming soon) raised 4 extraordinary men. I always say that it doesn’t matter how smart or gifted your child is; what matters is that they are good people. Cooky and Dom Vernola taught their boys to be kind and compassionate, to help those in need, to share what you can, to be there when you’re needed. They’ve succeeded in every possible way with my Vernola boys, who light up our lives every day.