I apologize for the lack of posting on my part these past few weeks. My transition from college to back home has been a bit busy and many things have been on my mind. One of which is the topic that I would like to discuss today. I will warn you that what I am writing about is very personal to me and deals with the death of a loved one.
My great-grandfather passed away almost a week ago now. He lived to be 100 years old and probably saw more change through his lifetime than I can even begin to comprehend.
In the United States it is a common cultural phenomenon to view death as a sad time for those who cared about the person deceased. While I completely understand that there is a time to grieve, I believe that with the passing of a loved one, it is also a time to reflect on the joyous moments.
One of the deepest and most profound quotes that I have ever heard goes as follows, “When you look at someone’s tombstone you see the four numbers that indicate the birth year and the four numbers that indicate the death year. But what most people don’t realize is that the most important part of the stone is the dash between those years. The dash represents everything that happened within the life of the individual.”
I use this time to reflect on the life of my great-grandfather. His dash filled the span of more than 100 years worth of time. And do you know what he did? He lived it. Every last second of it.
My relationship with my great-grandfather was not as close as the bond between him and my father. After his passing my dad shared with me the qualities of my great-grandpa as well as some of the things he did during those 100 years.
He was a hard worker: He owned a farm and continued working after his retirement until he was 95 years old. This was hard labor and I can not even begin to imagine the undeniable strength and endurance a person must have to continue it.
He was a family man: He loved his wife and children deeply and placed them as the top priority in his life. One of the reasons he worked so hard was because of his love and support of his family.
He was generous: My father told me that my grandpa was always inviting family over to his cabin up north and would always give guests a meal and let them stay as long as they’d like.
He was loving: I will never forget visiting him at his home in Wisconsin and how he always embraced me in a hug. We never had to call him ahead of time, everyone was always welcome at his home.
None of us know how long our time here will be. Some may live a century while others seem to leave this world too soon. We must remember to live the dash and not take a single moment on this earth for granted.
The qualities of my great-grandfather and his memory will remain a part of me forever. I feel so honored to have known a man with such integrity.
So this is for you grandpa. I love you.
Worry less and smile more.