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Father read the gospel in Latin at the altar and then walked to the pulpit looking out at everyone as he read it in English. When he had finished, he signaled for everyone to sit down. Looking out at the congregation, he began his sermon. “Two days ago, a dear friend of mine and a dear friend to many of you unexpectedly passed away. His five kids are sitting right here this morning in the first pew and many of you know them also. Velemer Peach, known to his kids as Pops and to his friends as Yimey, left his mark in the world simply because he did his best to help anyone who happened to come his way. Yimey had a little acronym he always used. I’m sure some of you know it. It was L-Y-N, and it stood for love your neighbor. Instead of saying hello or goodbye, Yimey would always say, ‘Hey Joe or Jan or whoever, L-Y-N.’ It was a beautiful thing. So, on this New Year’s Day of 1966, in honor of Yimey, maybe we can truly start something new. I want you all to turn to each other right now, shake hands and say L-Y-N to each other.”
Somewhat taken aback by this unprecedented directive from the priest in the pulpit, the people in the pews began to squirm. It was amazing how people packed tightly together could still maintain their own personal space. Father Sullivan had asked them to step outside of it. It was unnerving. Father continued to encourage them, “C’mon folks, just shake hands with your neighbor and say L-Y-N. I promise, no one will bite you.”
There was muffled laughter that circulated throughout the church and then the people began saying L-Y-N to each other. When they were all facing front again and the rumble of the quiet L-Y-Ns had subsided, Father Sullivan simply said, “And there you have it. The golden rule as explained by Yimey. I hope and pray that you all remember it. God bless you all. Happy New Year and L-Y-N.”
As Father left the pulpit and walked back to the altar, a delayed reaction kicked in. Teddy started to quietly sob. Joanie followed and like dominoes, so did Dancer and Beeker. Joey did not know what was going on. People in the pews near them began to wipe their eyes and soon most of the congregation was doing the same. Father Sullivan’s New Year’s Day homily about Pops had taken two minutes and it was memorable for its brevity. It was beautiful in its simplicity. Years later, those who were there that morning still remembered it.
Take a seven day journey with the five, newly orphaned Peach kids, as they begin their struggle to remain a family while planning their dad’s funeral.
They find an ally in the local parish priest, Father Tim Sullivan, who tries his best to guide them through the strange, unchartered and turbulent waters of “grown-up world.” A story that is sad, funny, and inspiring as it shows how the power of family love and faith can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.