I was recently in New York City during the tenth anniversary of the horrific September 11th attacks. My wife and I were there for other reasons, but we thought to see some of the memorials the city was holding. There were lots, and I read that several museums were free during the weekend or that Sunday. While passing the time that Sunday, we went to Bryant Park, which you can see in this post’s picture. Each chair is a victim, and every chair faces Ground Zero. It gives you great perspective of what roughly three thousand people can be. At no point in the park could you see all the chairs.
Whenever I think of September 11, 2001, I think of that day certainly. I also, though remember the loss of my second father, my Grandfather, or Grandaddy, as I called him. He passed away ten years ago.
It was sudden. I never had the opportunity to say “Goodbye,” which is not what lingers. He was a bulwark to my family, and a pillar in the small, southern town where I grew up. At 89, he lived a long life, and he was married 64 years to my grandmother, who passed away in the last few years at 101.5 (gotta throw that 1/2 in). There is never enough time though with those you love. I spent roughly 20 years around him, from infant to young adult. Still, as long ago as it was, it is seared in my mind, just as the breadth of those 20 years is all but brief to know a man, learn from an elder, or see enough of his life and love to say “that’s all.”
We all have this at some point. Life is long and short. Brief yet laborious. Yet when it is attached to a person, especially one that carried such an influence in your life and the lives of those you both loved…the absence is never filled, if only somewhat absorbed.
I knew him, warts and all. More than most and probably less than some. I got a lot of his love though. Grandkids get that, you know. I walked with him, watched him interact with others. I saw him show my grandmother his affection in ways words are never used (60 years of “practicing the craft”). He grew up in the Great Depression, and he displayed a lot of silent, resilient traits. Action over words, you might say.
These are a few pearls I keep from my Grandaddy:
- When you love someone, you show, first and foremost.
- Family is a connection to yourself and your encouragement to interact with others.
- Success is great and you should strive for it daily, but there is a way that hurts others or highlights just you. Stay away from that success as it sows seeds that are not beneficial to anyone.
- People are not a stepping stone, they are friends, as we all go through life and meet personal storms.
- Hold loosely to things. You can enjoy them, but remember they are just things.
- Money is a great resource. It also is finite. Measure it and mind it for the future.
- You cannot control people, but you can control how you act and what you do for them. This done with integrity allows you to best work with people in any venture.
- Duty is humble and it need not be advertised.
- Sometimes it hurts to love but that doesn’t mean you should compromise what is True. Pride can hinder even the strongest relationships.