Have you ever pondered on what it looks like to have a successful life? When we are younger we probably picture it with lots of career milestones and the accumulation of lots of expensive stuff. As we get older, some of us start to realize that what truly matters doesn’t come with a price tag. Memories filled with family, friendship, laughter, love — these are all things that truly matter and are all part of being successful in life.
This past week I have been reminded again just how precious the memories we make become part of the legacy that successful people leave behind them when they depart this life for the next. Today we said our final good byes to the wonderful, caring man who filled the lives of those around him with humor and love. I was blessed to call this man Grandpa.
Facebook has been filled with awesome, beautiful memories of Grandpa shared by my many cousins, aunts and uncles, and others. Pictures posted like wildfire and captured the life of a man whose face radiated with joy as he was surrounded by his family. As our family came together to celebrate his life and remember him, the stories flowed like milk and honey. He touched so many of us and helped make us into the people we are today.
We remembered all of the times that he told us to, “leave a quarter,” if we wanted to use the bathroom (I don’t think he was serious, but if so, I guess I ran up quite the bill over the years!). We remembered his unique sayings and commented on how we could hear him speaking those sayings in our minds. Tales of Easter Bunny stew and Easter Bunny traps were mentioned by more than one person, and many other stories that showed his love of life and his sense of humor.
For myself, there are two quick stories that stand out in my mind when I think back over my time with Grandpa. The first goes way back in the day, to a long time ago when I got my very first job in high school at Taco Bell. Forever more, when ever I saw Grandpa he would always ask me, “So are you still working for that Mexican phone company?”
The second memory that vividly comes to life in my memory left quite an impression and is the reason why to this day I have never had the desire to get a tattoo. Grandpa had a tattoo of an anchor on his arm that he got during his time in the Navy. There is quite a story to go with the tattoo. The part that made such a lasting impression on me though, was his saying that he was so tired of looking at the tattoo because what seemed okay back then wasn’t anything he cared to immortalize on his arm today. You can’t erase a tattoo. Please don’t take this to mean I am against tattoos. I just haven’t had the urge to get anything tattooed because I figured he was probably right. I would hate to be stuck with something permanently that I will be tired of seeing in twenty or thirty years.
His funeral was a private affair, only his family in attendance. His very large, very close family. In a day and age when the traditional family is falling to the wayside, and families live more in strife than in unity, Grandpa Jerry’s family filled the entire funeral home. The bonds of love between his children show just how close this family is. The jokes shared among the grandchildren a testament to a close-knit family. This is a family that lives life together, not just a couple of times a year on the holidays, but year round.
The legacy of Grandpa Jerry and Grandma Lucille (who was known as Teedy by her family and went ahead of him to Heaven) is the wonderful family they created and the example they have been to all of us. They have shown us how to love, how to laugh, and how to treat others.
To quote my Aunt Judy, his passing has left a large void in many hearts. We will never meet him again in this life, but look forward to seeing him and Grandma again in eternity.
Thank you Grandpa for showing us what a life well done looks like. We will miss you. Thank you for always making me smile.