Even the most successful individuals must credit some other person to their station. We can’t love or be loved by ourselves. We learn speech, language, love, and frustration all from others.
It is natural to reflect on those who have had a profound influence on life. We consider parents, teachers, religious leaders, or maybe even friends. Who can doubt the role that parents play in our lives?
My finance professor took the time to talk with me in college and made a great career suggestion–eight years later I’m happily working in that field from which I’ll likely retire.
An uncle invited me for a weekend getaway when life was beating me up. I needed something: failing financially and maritally. He showed me love, gave me a pep talk, and invited me to Church. That weekend experience changed the course of my life. The marriage didn’t survive, but I have renewed faith in God and a sense of direction that has been a guiding light since.
I grew up with a single mom and was only able to visit my dad for a couple weeks per year. But I often think of my two grandfathers, who lived closer. I adored them and looked forward to any chance to be with them. They both grew up to poor, hard-working families. They were both the oldest male in their families. They both grew up on farms. They both retired from successful careers in the Air Force: One retired as a Colonel and the other as the highest ranking, non commissioned officer in the Air Force. In short, they were dedicated, bright, hardworking, charismatic, honest, and loving. They are both gone now, and I miss them.
Grandpa V lived closest. He taught me to play golf, took me out for my birthday every year, a rare treat, and took me to baseball games. I moved away when I was 17-years old and only saw him a few more times after. He left us too soon. I hadn’t straightened my life out before he died. I wish he knew that his time with me wasn’t wasted. I eventually came around to get an education, a job of which we would both be proud, and children who make us both smile, knowing that we would hand off the baton proudly.
Grandpa B lived across the state. He was a Chaplain and taught me about God. Most of his family can claim to be people of faith because of his legacy. It is what is most important to us: a gift we can hardly repay. The best we can do is to live that faith, to hold fast to the traditions we have been taught. He was the first in his family to earn a college degree. His parents were simple, uneducated share croppers. With his encouragement, all four of his children earned college degrees, as well as seven of his eight grandchildren. The eighth began motherhood early–she now has seven and is a full-time teacher to them all. She’s the most dedicated to education of us all.
Grandparents are special. We lose them too soon. We can no longer tell them that we are thankful after they die. But, we can thank them through virtuous lives lived in the spirit of their example and legacy. Mostly, we can love our families as much as they loved theirs.