A Gift Beyond Compare

A Gift Beyond Compare

“You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
Psalm 139:16 (NLT)

            In 1957, just out of law school, I was awarded a position with the Department of Justice in a special program set up for honors’ law school graduates by the attorney general. Two years into my Washington dream job, I married, and tried to build a marriage while building a career. My young wife was unhappy with the life I’d envisioned for us in D.C., so ultimately, I resigned, and we moved to Connecticut.

            With a loan and a couple thousand bucks, thinking I was Abraham Lincoln, I opened a law office with a vague idea of getting into politics. I had a political radio talk show, and my law practice was interesting, but I wasn’t making any money. Eventually my wife and I were forced to move in with my mother and father. She became pregnant and we had our first child. I’d quit the best job in the world, effectively closing the door of that opportunity forever. Here I was, struggling to provide for my wife and child and failing to get any headway.

            Something had to give.

            At Christmas time, during a long walk into the Norwalk countryside, I had a religious experience. I saw my whole life mapped out before me. I’d go back to school, get a legal specialty, and be more than able to support my family.  My entire career as a tax attorney evolved from that encounter with God, and I was blessed with both a great career and a wonderful family.

            Then, just before Christmas in 1986, tragically and without warning, my wife died. The loss had an enormous impact on us all. My law firm was very gracious. They figured out a lot of places for me to make speeches. I even went to China, but every time I came back to our big house in Connecticut, there was nobody in it. The children were grown, and they’d arrange for us all to get together, but I’d be back in the house, alone, by eight o’clock. That was a very bad time for me.

          I didn’t want the guys in the office trying to get me dates, but I’d had a very good marriage and deeply wanted to be married again. The vision I’d had in the Norwalk countryside many years before was incomplete. Where was that someone God meant for me to live with the rest of my life? I had no idea.

            Kentucky Derby Day was on May 2nd in 1987. A big celebration was to be held at my club. I called up some friends in hopes they’d join me, but they hadn’t planned on going. Unbeknownst to me, however, they arranged for someone else to join me – a beautiful woman stylishly dressed in Italian clothes, a widow from North Carolina with a child and a dog. Thank you, God!

            That enchanted evening, across a crowded room, I saw the woman the Lord lovingly ordained to be my partner for the rest of my life and complete the vision he’d given me decades before. From that night, Jane and I have been inseparable. In too many ways than I can mention here, she has been a blessing to every single member of our family. She is a gift beyond compare.  Jack McDermott