There are REAL MEN, and then there is this next entry.
Leo Richard Creegan.
Next level “REAL”.
Next level husband, father, father-in-law, brother, grandfather, uncle and friend.
I am scared typing these words because Leo is a very private kind of gentleman and will probably not be pleased that I am telling a small portion of his life’s story but, I have to do such.
Strong, tough, cool and composed.
Let me explain.
Like most of the men in this series, Leo has been a part of my life since I was very young. As a kid, he was an impressive figure. With a white beard (and I think he was like 35 years old, but anyway) and predictable stone cold expression on his countenance, Leo was a bit, shall we say, intimidating. However, that demeanor was backed up by an incredible, patient sensitivity.
Leo was a teacher, coach and school principal in the first chapter of his life. With an iron fist, Leo made hundreds of Lowell kids better students, athletes and humans for many, many years. He knew how to discipline, but he also knew how to build young people up with praise when needed and deserved. Truly a gift.
I played Little League baseball for Leo and recall simply wanting to play hard and make him proud. Not sure there is a bigger compliment I can pay him.
Leo’s wife, Judy, and their four children built a wonderful life on Surrey Lane. Growing up with the Creegan brood, they were always fun and kind neighbors. Their only son, Ricky (yes, refuse to call him by his adult name, “Leo Jr.”) was an older kid I looked up to. Their older daughters, Elizabeth and Stephanie, babysat my sister and I. They witnessed my first embarrassing attempts to impress girls as an 8 year old when I would get to hang around them and their cool friends (hey there Tina, Sophia, Kerry, Martha and the rest).
Their youngest child, Colleen, was my age. Colleen was my true friend. Tragically, the Creegans lost Colleen when she was just 16 years old. Horrific. Not surprising, given her roots, Colleen was an incredibly beloved person and so many wept with the Creegans through this unfair suffering.
While managing incomparable sadness and pain, the Creegans stuck together and moved on to great things.
Lead by Leo.
Leo kindly ushered his sister, May Jane, through a lengthy battle with cancer. Never wavering in his unconditional love and support. What a brother he was to her.
Leo has always carried on and has continued to live an incredible, meaningful and full life. Often found with a neck-breaking-sized cigar dangling from his chops, Leo is one of the greats to be around. Story telling legend, Leo is a fun Teddy Bear of a guy if you can break past that faux-tough guy exterior.
One of my late father’s best friends, Leo stepped up from the moment I had to deliver the devastating news of my Dad’s passing. Never missing a beat, he checks in with me all the time. Joking he has become somewhat of my “new Dad”, Leo and I meet regularly for a coffee or cocktail to just catch up.
Offering direct and deliberate advice, Leo’s words always resonate with me. Always.
I am very blessed to have Leo keeping an eye on me. I certainly need it. Thank you, “Mr. Creegan”
P.S. Oddly, I never met a bad guy named Leo (Creegan, Shaughnessy, Mendez, McNeil, Sheridan, Flynn). Weird.