The son of a Catholic immigrant from Sicily comes from Racarmuto, a little-known town. He has always wanted me to go to law school like him. But he never saw me graduate from university or law school, and when I needed advice on how to deal with life, I couldn’t ask him for help.
So for a while I tried my best to pray for my father’s intercession and guidance. I went to law school in New York and accepted a summer assistant job in a large law firm between the second and third year.
Somehow — I now think it’s providence — on my first day of work, I ended up in Gerald J. Russell’s office. He was the legal partner of my new company during the day and the University Bookman at night. The respected editor. Although the windows of Gerald’s Midtown office overlooked a screen tower in Times Square in the distance, the place was full of books: his desks were piled up on shelves, and he climbed up the walls in piles.
My eyes were immediately drawn to the spine of an old book I recognized: a large book about the history of our law firm, a book my current husband bought for me. But when I scanned the room, I saw something else: some kind of souvenir from Festa di Maria SS. del Monte, an annual parade and festival held in La Carmuto, Sicily, to commemorate the Virgin Mary.
Apart from my own relatives, I have never seen anyone else-they are from Racalmuto, but I am here, sitting in Paesano’s office, a Racalmuth lawyer father like me. A sense of calm enveloped me, and I seemed to feel my father in the room, as if he was standing next to me, somehow leading me to Gerrard.
In the next few years, Gerrard became my good friend and mentor, and he taught me how to become a lawyer. When I understood the ins and outs of work, I worked closely with him on countless issues.
Although he taught me a lot, Gerrard is more than just a model of his profession. He also showed me how to become a person of faith in this world by a humble example. Generosity is second nature to Gerrard: my bookshelf is full of “leftover” books and magazines he gave me.
On December 6, I walked into my office and put a piece on my desk. St. Nicholas cookies (from Gerrard of course). When I rushed to the hospital due to a medical emergency during pregnancy, he took on extra work for me, and he kept reaching out to check on me and pray for my daughter and me. He is a serious person, the room is always full of joyful laughter, he is loyal to his wife and children, and is full of endless kindness and charity to everyone he meets.