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Remembering A Man I Loved On The Anniversary Of His Death

Just a bit ago Glenn and I played Carrie Underwood’s “See You Again” and I found myself choking back a huge lump in my throat.

One year ago today, I lost a man who meant the world to me. Leo Valliere was a truly amazing man, intelligent, humble and brave. He walked the walk. He didn’t talk the talk because there was no need. He simply was a decent human being. Regardless of all other considerations he simply did what he thought was best. Leo never yelled or got upset, he never cared about faults that people had, he just loved us and wanted us to be happy.

Leo served his country proudly in the “Big Red Division” in the United States Army for over 10 years as an Army platoon and company commander. After his time in the Army, Leo continued his service through four terms in the Vermont Legislature.

Leo always wanted people to take a stand and get involved in their community.  He was quoted by a newspaper as saying “…you don’t have a right to not get involved. If you don’t, you will deserve what you get. If you’re busy, then part of your ‘busyness’ should be service to the community.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Leo was the kind of man a person couldn’t help but be drawn to.  His laugh was infectious. He was a good talker, but an even better listener.  I used to ask him for advice and instead of telling me straight out what he thought I should or shouldn’t do, he’d sit down and talk with me until I figured out the answer for myself.

I miss Leo’s hugs.  He would wrap me up in his arms and hold on tight and he always called me “kid” no matter how old I was. We found out that Leo was fighting pancreatic cancer in the fall of 2011 and in February of 2012 I took a week off from work and spent that entire week with Leo in Vermont.  We chatted and napped.  Laughed and cried.  I think we both knew that it would be one of the last times we’d have together and so we soaked up every minute of our time. By June 18th, Leo was gone.

The morning Leo died I’d finally fallen asleep after tossing and turning for hours. I woke up suddenly in the early morning hours and grabbed my phone thinking that it was ringing.  It wasn’t so I went back to bed. A short time later I received the call that Leo had passed at the exact time I suddenly woke. I think Leo was saying goodbye. And I’m glad he did.

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