My grandfather was 92 years old when he peacefully released his final breath in his hospital bed last July. His state of passing was somewhat of a metaphor for the way he lived his life. He departed from this world in the same peaceful fashion he had chosen to live in it.
I recall enduring the blazing heat and humidity while walking through the cemetery with my family for his burial. I could feel every thread of fabric from my clothes sticking to my body, for they were almost as saturated with sweat as my face so covered with tears. Thank God for waterproof mascara.
What You Convey Is More Than What You Say…
My grandfather lived a full life of highs and lows, tragedy and triumph. He was a father to four children, and a grandfather to many. He was a quiet man of few words who communicated his values by means of his actions.
He taught not by words, but by living. He led not by instruction, but by example. He demonstrated his morals not by criticism, judgment or punishment, but by his own choices.
He never had to tell me he was happy to see me. I knew he was. I knew it when he called me multiple times in one afternoon to confirm what time I was planning to visit him. I knew it by the careful way he once ventured to the upper level of his home, despite his bad knees, just to make sure it was up to par for my stay. I knew it by the way he had carefully laid out an assortment of towels in the bathroom, had the sheets freshly washed, and asked me at least three times over a span of two hours, “Is pizza okay with you?”
He never had to confess his love for his family. He often told us, but never had to. I knew it when he showed me the coffee mug he drank from each day – the one with our family picture on it. I knew it when he pulled his list of family members from his end table, questioning me repeatedly in an effort to make sure he had everyone’s birthdays correct. In the same way, his delight and fondness for anything in his life was evident. To my knowledge, he never made a formal declaration to anyone of his love for the chocolate pie at Waffle House, but I knew it with the same level of certainty that I know my hands are currently moving across my keyboard, crafting this message for all who will read it. Everyone who knew my grandfather well knew of his fondness for indulging his sweet tooth with chocolate pie, but not because he ordered it as faithfully as a priest says his prayers. We knew it because of the obvious delight on his face each time it was served to him.
His genuine smile comforted my heart during the worst of times. He was a master of consistency. There was never a time I called my grandfather when I was not met with a tone that conveyed both warmth and gratitude. Our conversations always began with, “Oh, hey Lacey!” and always ended with, “I appreciate you calling, baby,” but he didn’t have to say it at all. I knew he appreciated it, and I knew he enjoyed hearing from me, no matter how brief the conversation. I’m thankful those conversations are forever imprinted upon my brain, for I will likely want to replay them for the rest of my life. In that sense, he truly will live on in me. My grandfather is special to me because I admired his character. However, one of the most meaningful lessons I take from my relationship with him is quite simple: My grandfather made me feel important, and people never forget how you make them feel.
“Nobody Ever Asks Me My Name…”
Once I met a homeless man named Frank. While stopped at a light in a fairly busy intersection, I purchased a newspaper from him. Rather than just flash a brief smile and accept the paper in exchange for my quarter, as I had always done prior, something compelled me to go a step further. I shook his hand, introduced myself and asked him his name. He chuckled with surprise as his eyes sparkled with delight. After gathering himself for a few seconds, he said, “Nobody ever asks me my name.”
I believe we have a responsibility to each of our fellow human beings: We must understand that each of our lives are relevant, each exist without chance and each deserve both the admission and recognition of importance. We must stop ranking human beings. We must stop labeling one another, compartmentalizing one another, attempting to trump one another and creating distance between ourselves and others. There is healing power in the process of making another person feel wonderful.
When you help another person heal, you heal with them. When you help another person blossom and grow, you do the same. In this world, ego tells us to fight to dim the light of others in order to make our light appear brighter, but such efforts are as counterproductive as they are ridiculous. It is not necessary to take anything from another person in order to gain something for yourself.
Heal And Be Healed…
Upon returning from a medical mission trip to the third world country of Belize a few years ago, I found myself with moments of feeling both breathless and speechless. I had never encountered such raw, unadulterated love and gratitude. The experience was so transformative, I wondered how I could ever justifiably explain to anyone how I had been touched so deeply. Nothing had ever penetrated my spirit to such a degree. People were grateful for the simplest things. I had never encountered such beauty.
I witnessed a grown man cry upon receiving treatment for an eye infection after having experienced years of discomfort. I witnessed a mother wear a plastered smile for an hour straight upon her daughter receiving treatment for a painful skin condition. I’m telling you; that woman did not break her smile for at least the duration of a solid hour. It was contagious. Interestingly, though, I noticed one surprising common denominator: More than the relief from their pain, worry or ailment, each person treated seemed most moved and healed by one simple thing: We had made them a priority.
We had taken time out of our lives to make them important.
When I returned from my trip, I felt I was chasing the words to convey the healing that had taken place inside of me. By giving of myself and making the healing of others important, I healed as well. I grew. I learned. I received a blessing. Shining light over their lives did not take any from mine. Rather, I was illuminated by it, too.
The next time you consider shining some light into another’s life, don’t just say the words. Don’t just donate the money. Don’t just put in the time. Don’t just drive past them and pretend they don’t exist. Ignorance is not bliss.
Stop raising the bar of competition and begin raising the bar for true connection.
Haven’t you ever noticed how the takers in the world never seem to function with a full cup? You know those so-called friends; The ones who take your advice but never offer any, the ones who take up hours of your time with their problems but never devote any of their’s to you, the ones who seek attention for their efforts and endeavors but never support another’s shining moment without attempting to glorify themselves in the process?
Their well is most often as dry as a bone, never seeming to remain full for long. As soon as it is filled, it is depleted yet again. What they do not understand is their stinginess and self-centeredness keeps them in a hollow state of isolation. They are always running on empty again before long, seeking to take more and more from others. On the contrary, have you ever noticed how those who give freely and lovingly without expectation are able to to do so because their cup is always overflowing?
Everyone wants to leave their mark on this world. Everyone wants to be relevant, to have an impact on someone and to leave a piece of themselves behind so that they live on long after they have died. The most guaranteed method of impacting another person is to make them feel that they matter to you. Make another person feel that the truest part of them is important to you, and your mark will remain stitched on their heart forever.
©TheDailyDoll.com/Lacey Johnson 2015