I always feel the need to engage in immediate, painful reflection on distressing issues. It seems oddly soothing to go through the process of producing a momentary feeling of rock-bottom terribleness through thoroughly remembering and coming-to-terms-with in order to get to a place that feels emotionally complete. So, I guess that’s this.
Anyway, this post is about my husband’s grandfather, who lost a month-long battle with pneumonia last week after 91 amazing years.
Let me just get this out there first: I don’t know what happens when we die. I don’t pretend to know, I’m not comforted by thoughts of optimistic possibility, and it frankly doesn’t concern me in any tangible way. What I care about, is what happens when you live. This man lived. He offered his family and the world so much insight on what it means to work hard, play hard, and love hard. He and his wife, who you may recall from my past writings passed away just five months ago, built a structure of love and support for their family that is like none other. I have only been a part of their world for four short years (and we had a prohibiting language barrier most of the time), but I see the results of their work every day in my husband’s work ethic, family values, unwavering faith in our future, and exuberant love of life.
Yet another quote from Good To Great (if you haven’t read this book, you really should): “Perhaps, then, you might gain that rare tranquility that comes from knowing that you’ve had a hand in creating something of intrinsic excellence that makes a contribution. Indeed, you might even gain that deepest of all satisfactions: knowing that your short time here on this earth has been well spent, and that it mattered.”
As I grow older, having now surpassed what I hope to be a quarter of my life, I find learning from others increasingly important. Scurrying around, picking up the pieces of the lessons scattered about by those who’ve done what I haven’t, and putting them to work in a way that aids the functionality of my own life has steadily become a favorite hobby of mine over the past few years. When I’m old, it’s my hope that these collected lessons will have helped me continue to make strong, thoroughly considered decisions that continue to push me down the most favorable paths in life so that the above quote will hold true throughout the various phases of my life.
To sit in an odd solidarity in a room filled with folks who have all been touched in one way or another by this man is truly an honor. To experience my new family-in-law’s collective sorrows caused by the loss of such an empowering individual, who was able to guide life lessons of their in just the right ways, feels oddly joyous, as I recognize and reflect upon the potential that each of us has to continue to grow and learn, to love and support; and to create powerful, meaningful relationships and families of our own.
Thank you, Macario.