Monthly Archives: January 2007

full circle

One week before Christmas, we buried my grandfather.  Things like this, even under the best of circumstances, are difficult.  I’ve learned a few things this week though, and it’s been good.

Lesson #1-I never had a real ‘close’ relationship with my grandfather. 100% of my memories of him are based around holiday gatherings, Christmas and Thanksgiving visits, along with the occasional July 4th picnic/cookout. I rarely, if ever, saw him any other time of the year, until these last few years. For the most part, that was ok with me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my grandfather very much. Still do today, even though he’s gone. That was just the nature of the relationship we had, and that’s ok. Here’s the thing, though. He had a stroke last spring. From that point, until his death in December, he went from one hospital in Chicago, to a hospital in Indiana, to a nursing home. I saw him about a month before his stroke. We laughed, joked around, talked for a few minutes (more than that at one time was rare for him with just about anyone, family or not), and I was on my way. It wasn’t a rush-job on my part, and wasn’t a chore or feeling of obligation. It was for a purpose, but I was glad to see him, regardless of what brought me there. So a month later, he has his stroke, and is bed-ridden. Because of my own selfishness, fear, or whatever you want to call it, I never went to see him. I knew his health was deteriorating, and I didn’t want to see him like that. I knew also that he was forgetting people, and I didn’t want to see him, in that state, and have him not know or remember who I was. So I stayed away. I got the phone call the morning he died from my parents. Upon hearing the news, my first thought was, “I never went to see him”. What was lesson #1? Never, regardless of your own feelings, fears, or lack of desire, skip out on a chance to see a loved one. You never know when the last time you might see them will be. Cherish every moment.

Lesson #2-Life keeps going. After a phone call regarding funeral arrangements and being a pallbearer for the funeral. I hung up the phone and filled Theresa in on what was going on. She sat and listened, while holding my then 6 month old Alex. As I spoke, Alex smiled, gave a laugh, reached out his arms, and for the first time in his young life, uttered the words, “Da Da”. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Not because he said his first word (which I’m willing to concede COULD have been incidental), and not because he smiled and reached out his arms (which I am convinced was entirely NOT incidental). I was floored because while one life ended, another was just beginning. One life has moved on from this temporal shell, to eternity, while the other is still dependant on the warmth of a father’s hug, and the tenderness of a mother’s kiss. One life has seen everything there is to see, “been there” and “done that”, while the other knows nothing of the snares, schemes, and divisiveness that can be the world we live in. It was indeed the epitomy of seeing life full circle. And it was as if the responsibility of who I am as a husband and father hit me square in the jaw. While I helped bring closure to one chapter of life, I have been entrusted with the awesome responsibility of three lives that look to me for answers, guidance, and help. Three lives that watch my every move, store it away in the vastness of the mind God gave them, and learn what it is to be a man themselves. This life is short, but no matter how hard life is, no matter how rocky the path can be, and no matter what obstacles become hurdles on your way through, life is so important for remembering what really matters, and Who this living that we do is actually for. Imparting that to those who are dearest to me is fulfillment no job, hobby, or other person can bring to me.