The Death of My 99-Year-Old Grandfather Made Me a Better Person [Lead by Example & Choose Your Examples Wisely]

That is what love is made of...

That is what love is made of…

My Grandfather passed away last week. 99!

Actually, 98 and 337 days…28 days shy of 99. I’ll round up.

One heck of a run.

Here’s what our train ride looked like to/from the funeral…

 

2 1/2 year old in car seat for 12 hours or the train for 12 hours? Neither.

A whirlwind of travel misery and death.

And profound life lessons.

A little background on the legend that is Pop-Pop…

  • December 5, 1916 – November 7, 2015
  • Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps
  • Four children, 10 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren.
  • Didn’t swear, smoke or drink.
    • The only drink he ever ordered was when he proposed to his lovely bride – Grandma, at Rockefeller Center. He ordered a whiskey sour, and “if you look there now, the full glass is still sitting there.”

Pop was an awesome dude. Cheerful. Kind. Always there with a joke and a smile. The most steadfast and consistent person I’ve ever met. If he said it, you know you could count on it.

He expected a lot out of you. But he didn’t make demands. He led with his actions, and you knew to follow suit.

He would say things like…

  • If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
  • The Marines have landed and the situation is well at hand.
  • The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.

Before giving a reading at the funeral (verse below), I said…

Pop is an amazing person. I’m honored to be up here. Gram and Pop are the example I live by every day.

Love you Gram

Love you Gram

With the passing of Gram and Pop, I’m left with the realization that I am now responsible for carrying on that example. Their legacy.

A bit cliché, but real.

It’s easy for examples to fade away. It’s difficult to choose the right examples. And even more difficult to follow that example.

When the end is in the future, examples remain examples. Ideals. When the end arrives, those ideals must be carried on. Or fade fast.

I’ve chosen the best possible example, and now it’s my turn to lead in the same way.

  • Always a smile to share.
  • Never a bad word for anyone.
  • A fighter for what I believe, but fight in the most loving way.
  • No complaints, angry faces, or mean-spirited actions.
  • Family is always the top priority, but love is all inclusive.

I am who I am, on so many levels, because of Gram and Pop’s love. I am the husband, father, and person that I am because of the lessons they passed on to me.

The brilliance of it all is Gram and Pop never once “taught” me a lesson. They passed on everything I need to know to live a good life and be a good person by just being themselves.

I am their legacy.

I wrote an essay for my college application about my Grandfather. I closed with…

I hope to make my Grandfather as proud of me as I am of him. 

20 years later, this is more important than ever.

The ideals that Gram and Pop lived by are in my hands. Their lessons live on through my actions.

An immediate jolt to responsibility.

I am a better person because Pop was in my life. The best example I’ve ever met.

Love you Pop. You will be missed. But your  legacy is safe with me.

1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

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One Response to The Death of My 99-Year-Old Grandfather Made Me a Better Person [Lead by Example & Choose Your Examples Wisely]

  1. Pingback: Life Lessons from the End: What can Aging & Death Teach Us? | Dude Knows Best

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