Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.
It’s Friday and I’ve been in Oklahoma for just over 24 hours to say goodbye to my grandfather. After an incredible 14 years after his stroke, he is now transitioning to his next journey and we’ve all corralled to send him off. I’ve spent the last day smiling, crying, laughing, singing, celebrating, but mostly remembering. I will most definitely be writing about my dear Pops and the emotional roller coaster we’ve all been riding for a while now, but for today I offer the top five (among many) life lessons Pops instilled and impacted on us all.
5. Take Risks & Dream Big
Safety was always a concern of Pops’ and I wouldn’t say he was technically risky, but he did believe in calculated risk and he dreamed big. Well, he did everything big, but dreaming was near the top. After years as a successful insurance salesman, he built a fishing and hunting business after noticing a lack of safe equipment. It was never too late to learn, to start over, to fulfill a dream. I admire that so much about him, even though he used my nimble fingers as a child to build some of his early products! Boat whistles or tackle vests, anyone?
4. No Whining
I’ve never met someone with such a positive disposition as my Pops. He never allowed himself to waste time in the negative. And throughout this entire almost-15-year battle, no one has ever heard him complain. Not once. How easy would it have been to ask “why me?,” or be frustrated when his speech or memory failed him, but he has always loved life above all and wasn’t going to waste a minute of it feeling sorry for himself. Even if confined to an ailing body. What an inspiring gift.
3. Be Generous
Many a life has been changed forever by Pops’ generosity and compassion. He was generous in his time, money, talent, but most of all, his love. My grandparents love big and they always wanted everyone to know that there is enough love for all…and then some. The result is an incredibly close, loving family that, despite inevitable differences, believes in loving often, hard, openly and freely. That is truly another huge gift.
2. Be a Team Player
Whether it was playing baseball, coaching baseball, watching baseball, or really any group setting, Pops has always believed in the team. Loyal to the core. He had a love of community and camaraderie that would make any pro or pee wee coach jealous. We grew up cheering for the Astros through thick and thin, and even the very thin. He believed in their team. He believed in the idea and essence of a team…unless that team was from Norman, Oklahoma. #gopokes
1. Be the Better Person
If our family had a credo, this would be it. It comes in various forms: “take the high road,” “don’t get down on their level”…but it all was the same. Keep your head and your actions high. Character is of utmost importance, and boy did he have an outstanding one. I don’t know how many times my mother has said “be the better person” to me and I’ve responded “being the better person sucks,” or something poetic to that effect. But, she’s right. Be the person that you (and he) would be proud of. It works every time.
After re-reading this I realize I’m already using past tense. Perhaps it’s a defense mechanism, or the realization that the Pops we know is already on the other side. As we continue to wait, my heart aches for a peaceful transition…for us all. Love you, Pops.