words are powerful

A Grand Legacy

Posted on Updated on

legacy

Like your parents, but the next step up, grandparents can instill a mixture of emotions. As a little one, they could coerce obedience by promising to tell your parents whether you had been good or not. It was only in later years that you realized they probably wouldn’t say a word if you had been bad.

As parents, grandparents probably raised their children with a firm hand, but with age tend to mellow which means grandchildren probably get away with much more than their parents ever did.

Some things never change though.

The mother who insisted she was not hungry when the last piece of bread, or meat, or even pie beckoned to the stomach of an eight-year-old is probably the grandmother who does the same when you went to visit them.

The father who was a military veteran and instilled strict discipline in the ranks is probably the same grandfather who will sneak with you out of the garage down to the local ice cream store or bakery after making you promise not to tell grandma that something has spoiled your dinner.

While some grandparents never learn, others have had the privilege of helping the next generation to learn and grow. Some grandparents undermine the parents, while others are careful to help instill respect, loyalty, and honesty.

Mygrandparents were the good kind of grandparents. I never knew my maternal grandfather as he passed away when my mother was only sixteen, I spent many years loving my maternal grandmother and the man she married after being a widow for 18 years. We called him Grandpa and he was everything you could ask for in a proper British gentleman.

A master electrician and professor at a local British college, I can remember visiting them and him asking me to help him “do some repairs up in the attic.” A stately man, he carefully took off his suit jacket and worked his way up the ladder still wearing a sweater, pressed dress shirt, and a tie (with a double Windsor knot). Knowing nothing about electrical wiring, he made me feel important as though I had actually done the work.

Grandma, or Nanny as she was preferably called, could bake up a storm. Tarts, sausage rolls, scones, and all things British helped keep appetites at bay. She always had a faint smell of lavender and she was meticulous about her clothing and hair. Til the day she died at almost 87, she had a full head of dark brown hair with no more than a handful of gray or white hairs.

My paternal grandmother abandoned her family when my dad was little, but we did know and spend time with my paternal grandfather. Distance and careers kept us from visiting as often as I would have liked, but he knew he was loved. Laying carpet, tile, and linoleum until he was in his 70’s, he taught me the importance of hard work.

On one visit when I was about ten, we drive across the US to visit him. While there, he kept us entertained while still working hard. In his 70’s, he could still run circles around what I can do in my 50’s. During the visit, my parents bought him a brand-new wallet as his was falling apart. I asked for the wallet, but my parents didn’t think it was of any value and it was thrown away. We left the next evening and headed back across the US. All I could think of was a wallet in the trashcan behind the house, but it was eventually forgotten.

Years later, I visited my grandfather down in Mexico with my own little family that we had just started. During that time, the previous visit when I was ten entered the conversation and it triggered the memory of that old wallet. I shared the story with my grandfather and we laughed about what makes a memory. Reaching into his back pocket, he pulled out a newer wallet and asked me if I would like to have it. I was very surprised, but insisted that I had a newer wallet myself and wanted him to keep what he had. He never had a great deal of money or possessions, but he was just Grandpa. He was the type of person that would give you what you needed and even what you wanted whether he could afford it or not.

My stories could probably fill books of all the things they did for us and with us, but the one common factor was their love for us. They didn’t always agree with our decision any more than our parents did, but they stood with us especially when life was difficult.

Asa grandfather myself now, I look at past generations and realize the rich heritage that was left to me. Sadly, we are not allowed to spend time with our grandson due to a nasty divorce, but I can only pray that one day that little fellow will know that we tried to be there for him. I hope that like my own grandfathers, and my children’s grandfathers, that I will be a rock to help guide through life but do so with as much graciousness and love as I was shown.

All of my grandparents are now gone, but their memories live on. I wish I would have taken more time than I did, but when you are young, you think that with a full life ahead of you that they do as well.

My goal is to be the kind of grandfather to my grandchildren that they will one day be to their own grandchildren. If I do it right and they follow in the footsteps that I have followed before me, then I will have succeeded.

A grand legacy is something money cannot buy.

Advertisements

Sympathy or Empathy?

Posted on Updated on

empathy

Death

Endless grief

Years too few

Tears fall down unbidden

When will the sadness leave

Bodies tired from sorrow

Days too many

Hearts ache

Pain

Definition of sympathy — “Feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.”

Definition of empathy — “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Until November 1995, I thought of empathy and sympathy as being synonymous words. Earlier that year, I had started a career in the cemetery/funeral industry.

Often I prided myself that I felt and expressed pity and sorrow for those who lost a loved one in death. Through the almost eight years in the industry, culminating my career as a funeral director, I realized that most of my colleagues showed sympathy.

Yet, many of those colleagues had an edge or bluntness to their mannerisms that did not evoke a good rapport with the families who came in to see us on what was probably the worst day of their lives. Very quickly after starting this career, I realized many things.

Three points, in particular, stand out.

1) Many who enter the business of caring for the deceased do so because they have learned that it can be a lucrative business.

2) It is impossible to understand and express empathy to others when you have never experienced what they have.

3) Not everyone handles grief the same way.

At a later date, I intend on writing on points one and three, but this post is about point number 2.

November 1995 changed my perspective. For the first time in my life, I experienced the loss of a loved one — a close loved one. In fact, the person that I lost was my brother, John. He was 4 ½ years younger than me, but we were best friends.

Before November 1995, I had no problem expressing sympathy for those I helped to bury a family member or a friend. This was true whether it was a funeral for a baby, a child, a teenager, or an adult of any age.

However, when the winter of death approached the door of our family, it was like a switch turned on inside of me.

I was able to not only sympathize, but I could empathize. In other words, I not only had feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune, but I also now had “the ability to understand AND SHARE the feelings of another.”

Do not misunderstand what I am saying here. My words are not meant to imply that unless a person has experienced a loss that they are not able to show true feelings of sorrow or grief at a funeral. Everybody expresses grief in different manners.

Mypost is meant to share where I was at in my life. I was almost 30 years old and had to learn the hard way what it meant for me to show empathy, not just sympathy.

This really resonated with me, when I was called to serve a military family. Their eight-year-old child had gone with a friend to a nearby lake and had accidentally drowned when their little canoe overturned. When the family arrived at the funeral, I sympathized with them over their loss.

However, one of the family members resonated with my heart. It was the older brother, who was 17 and getting ready to leave for Basic Military Training. After the funeral, the family stood at the cemetery and I felt impressed to walk up to the young man. Asking permission to speak freely, they granted it and I briefly in just a few short sentences shared what I had just gone through no more than about 2 or 3 months earlier.

The older brother kept nodding his head as I shared. When I finished, he stood up and walked over to me.

Giving me a hug, this tall, young man thanked me profusely for being willing to share. He told me that he had never experienced a death in his family and that my account helped him to realize that there were others who shared in similar feelings.

When all was concluded at the cemetery and the family left, I spent time walking through between the cold gravestones and wept again for the loss of my brother and because of what I was feeling for this family I had just finished serving.

On the worst day of a person’s life, they need to know that there are others who are there for them. Some need to be made aware that the shoulder they can cry on is one that has been bowed low under the weight of a loss as well.

The average family experiences a loss of a close loved one about once every 7 years. My family was not average before November 1995, and after that date, we have had several pass away with sad regularity.

One truth I seek to share is the difference between sympathy and empathy. When I express grief or sorrow with another individual, it is because I have also been there. I know what it is like to lose a 22-year-old brother to a massive heart attack, several family members to different types of cancer, the loss of a miscarried baby, and the loss of a grandbaby.

This does not make my family or I special. Death is part of life.

However, these sessions of pain, grief, and sorrow allow me to better express care for those who are in need today because of what I experienced yesterday, and because of what we all experience tomorrow.

The Devolving of Truth

Posted on Updated on

truth

What is truth? Is there any such thing as absolute truth? What about moral truth?

Is truth merely what each individual chooses it to be?

America is at a crossroads. I would posit that the crossroads have almost converged to the point where both roads are almost pointing the same direction.

Liberals scream at conservatives. Conservatives scream at liberals.

Liberals want freedom of speech, but only to a point where it does not jeopardize their own tenacious position on the cliffs of humanity.

Conservatives want freedom of speech, but only to a point where it does not jeopardize their own tenacious position on the cliffs of humanity.

In politics, there is no discernible difference between either of the previous two statements.

However, the real question should not be whether we self-identify as liberal or conservative. The real question we should be asking is this:

WHAT IS TRUTH?

If truth is merely subjective, then we live in a world that is but a mere slide away from complete degradation of human government and into the abyss of anarchy.

Truth is NOT and cannot be subjective, and this is also true for morality. However, my desire is to deal with truth in this post.

Truth is based on facts, not on presuppositions. This is a big $5 word with which many are not familiar.

A presupposition is “a thing tacitly assumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of argument or course of action.” In other words, a presupposition says that what I believe to be true automatically must make that believe to be true. However, this philosophy of thought enables a person to believe whatever they want.

A simple example: A man was being interviewed about what he believed on a certain political point. He said, “Well, I believe what my politician believes.” He was then asked, “But, what does your politician believe?” The man thought quickly before responding, “Why, she believes like most Americans believe.” The interviewer then asked, “But, what do most Americans believe on this point?” The man thought ever so briefly and responded, “Why I guess, they believe just like me!”

The reality is that the man had no intention of discerning what was true. His mind was already made up about what he believed. Because he assumed that his politician would believe just like he did, he was then able to make another illogical jump and assume that most Americans believed just like he did. The sad fact is that the man never actually got around to stating exactly WHAT he believed.

Truth is NOT about statistics as statistics can be tweaked by whoever is setting the standards.

Truth is NOT about which political party is right or wrong. It is also NOT about which one is in power or not in power. Politicians have long been lying to their constituents long enough to get in office. Promises are then broken. More lies are told just in time for them to try and run for office again.

Truth IS based on gathering all the facts about a certain subject or topic matter.

It is NOT about gathering just what we feel comfortable with or with what makes us happy. Sadly though, we have become a nation of people that depends on others to do our thinking for us. Research and debate are oddities throughout our society.

Try to debate somebody logically and with clarity and you are automatically labeled as a bigot. It does not matter what the issue is or even on which side you find yourself standing on the issue.

Woe to the people who may try to think on their own and do their own research. They are labeled as conspiracy theorists or crackpots.

Consider these examples:

Ask somebody who shot Kennedy in November 1963, and probably 98% of the time, the response you will get simply parrots what the government has told us to believe for over 50 years. It matters little to the vast majority because they do not believe that it has anything to do with them.

Ask somebody where they were on September 11, 2001. They will tell you where they were and probably what they were doing. But then ask them what actually took place that day. A blank look will quickly be followed by what they have been told by the government took place or by what the liberal media posited took place.

Ask somebody to debate with you on the issues of abortion, human rights, or whatever and see what kind of answers you get. Logic goes out the window. Emotions rise immediately to the surface and this then dictates where the conversation will go.

Sadly, people do NOT want to know what truth is. They want to be comfortable in their own little reality. People want their own little make-believe worldview because it does not challenge their thinking.

Some of the statements you will hear in these scenarios include:

1) What does it matter?

2) What difference does it make?

3) I know what I believe.

4) Don’t confuse me with facts.

In 1933, a little-known politician rose to power on the backs of these kinds of statements. Adolf Hitler conned an entire nation (and even other nations) into believing that his radical ideas were the best for the people. Instead of trying to determine the truth about his madness, every level of government fell in line and in turn, so did the general populace.

Twelve years later, the local populations in Europe of Germans, Dutch, French, Belgians, Polish, Ukrainian, and Austrians (to name but a few) tried to express shock at the mass murders committed right on their own doorsteps. The overwhelming majority had refused to do anything thinking that it was “not my problem.”

Truth was considered relative. Truth did not really matter as long as reality did not change the status quo for the average person.

History is going to repeat itself because we have not learned from it. We are being duped. We have been handed the blue pill and told to believe that it is actually a red pill.

Government tells lies constantly, the media spins the lies to their own satisfaction, and then the people are expected to simply believe it because the government or media has declared that it is “the truth.”

In the 1992 movie, “A Few Good Men,” Jack Nicholson plays the antagonist, Col. Nathan R. Jessup. Towards the end of the movie, he shouts in the courtroom, “You want the truth. You can’t handle the truth.”

Yes, we can handle the truth. It may be brutal. It may shake us out of our lethargy as a nation. In the end, the truth demanded action against the King of England back in 1776.

My father tried to teach his children, just as I try to teach my children. “Two wrongs never make a right. Always tell the truth no matter what you think it may cost you because lies will always cost more.”

Originally written for Publishous on Medium.

A Cry to Liberty

Posted on Updated on

cry

Politicians of this world
Rarely give sage advice
The only goal is themselves
While forsaking all that’s nice.

Forsaking all that’s nice
What is nice you may ask
Remembering who they represent
Is their sole elected task.

Sole elected task is to rule aright
Forgotten in the power strife
The people cared not for
Each party part of same sharp knife.

Same sharp knife that cuts to quick
Both sides equal in their acts
People mourn and grow weary of
Government no longer based on facts.

When no longer based on facts
History doomed now to repeat
Who will care when it is gone
Freedom’s call – forgotten feat.

Forgotten feat of days gone by
When soldiers gave their alls
Liberty the goal and sweet dream
Gave way to political calls.

Political calls the masses sway
Apart from the brave and bold
Those who rule must give account
E’er freedom’s blood grows cold.

Should freedom’s blood grow cold
Cared not by demands of most
‘Give what I am due’ they cry
Lady Liberty but a memory’s ghost.