ink for thought: thank you, for everything

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

thank you, for everything

"Take care of yourself"

these were the last words my grandfather said to me. he was dying, he knew it, I knew it, everyone knew it. 

I didn't really understand what he meant until I stood at the door of the funeral parlour. not until I stood there and saw the throng of people wanting to get in, to pay their respects, to honour him in passing, to share in the suffering of our loss did I understand what my grandfather meant.

you see, my grandfather lived his life by one principle it would seem. one thread linking his actions together and that single motivation behind his thinking and decisions. my grandfather invested in people. he believed in the value of the dream and it didn't matter what the dream was. he understood how precious the spirit is and he had great respect for those who nurtured it.

it's almost funny when I think about it but he never lectured me on his beliefs. and don't get me wrong, he could lecture. I grew up hearing his views on everything from religion and politics (not totally dissimilar topics to be fair) to economics and society. but I can't recall him ever saying very much about caring for others. instead, his most poignant message was preached through his actions. he seemed to touch lives everywhere he went. for a small man he cast a very large shadow.

I want so much to write about what he meant to me. I want to tell the world how he believed in me and didn't stop for one minute.

even after that mental fog had descended and my grandfather stopped recognising close family he still looked up at me from his bed, and he saw the lonely little boy who couldn't make friends, he saw the hurting and angry teenager, he saw the failing and floundering young man, he saw his grandson and he believed in me still.

you see, even though I hadn't found it yet my grandfather already believed in my dream and he believed deeply in my ability to fulfill that dream. I remember being really worried about telling him that I hadn't performed as well as perhaps I should have in some test or the other and his response was always the same "what have you learned and what do you do next?" he never chastised me, instead he encouraged me not to chastise myself too harshly but to learn from my mistakes and keep pushing forward. he encouraged me to never settle, never to become complacent, never to be content with second best from myself. his faith in me and my ability was unshakable in the face of some very persuasive proof to the contrary.

but that was just like my grandfather, stubborn.

however true it is, I would be lying if I said that me learning to believe in myself through my grandfathers persistence was the point of this piece. I would even love to say I have a firm grip on my dream and I pursue it daily. but that would equally miss the point. what I learned from my grandfather was this...

believe in others. value and invest in them. give them your time, give them an ear, give them a shoulder and an arm if needs be. helping others believe in themselves, helping them find their wings, these are the things that make a life worthwhile, makes a life significant, makes a life memorable.

I remember standing at that parlour door thinking, 'if I can just do this one thing then I might one day be half the man he was.'

you see, my grandfather was a great man because he made men believe they were giants. 

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