Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Today I lost my Grandfather

He was the greatest man I know. Standing on the shoulders of a giant is a cliche, I'm sure, but some phrases are evocative no matter how tritely they've been used. Like so many of my generation, I've been blessed in my life with a grandfather who loved me and helped to make me the man I am today. Certainly the finest man I've ever known (and I have known some excellent men), he cast a long shadow over my life seemingly without even trying. As a child, all I knew was that he took me to ball games (my first IU basketball and football games and my first Colts game) and movies (Return of the Jedi), and that dad and I would go watch the Hoosiers at his house when they were on cable. These things were so important to me then, but now seem so trivial in light of the truly great things this man did for me.

He was the greatest man I know. He was a warrior and scholar. He was a learner and teacher. He was a man of faith and of thought. He was raised in a small town, spent many hours on a farm, and lived in the city. He was Irish, and he was American. He signed up to serve his country after Pearl and rose to be a lieutenant colonel in the USMC. He knew Eva Marie Saint and once asked Ava Gardner to dance (she declined saying that Mickey would be way too jealous). He saw Hack Wilson, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial and was there in Brooklyn the day Jackie Robinson changed the world. He dedicated his life to teaching, and served kids at an inner city school for years. Even after he retired, he substitute taught, always favoring Pike High so he could be near his grandkids. He was a dedicated citizen in the true sense of the word, campaigning tirelessly for candidates who helped the poor. He was an elected official, and would drive the people to the polls on election day who couldn't make it themselves. Deep into his 70s and 80s he was working tirelessly for the poor and the defenseless. He believed that one could best fulfill the Greatest Commandment by honoring the Second One that was like it. Despite all he had done, I never heard him boast. Not even once. Only a humble man can loom so large. IF the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control, then he was indeed a tree of life. He was the greatest man I know.

I've tried to live my life in light of the heritage I've received from him, though I'm not sure that he how much he realized it. I've dedicated my own life to working with the same people that he did, because when you stand on the shoulders of a giant, you can see far. Some days you can see clear to Jerusalem. Now that he's gone, I feel like I've descended down into a valley that I can't see out of. It's far easier to stand on the shoulders of a giant than to walk in his deep, deep footsteps. Each time we lose a man like this, it's as if the world grows that much more dim and moves on a little more. It becomes incumbent upon all of us ascend to the same heights at which men such as this move, if only so we can see the light again, and find our way along in the twilight. There are only so many hours of daylight in each life, and we must walk while we have them. There is no way to thank such a man as this, except to live how he lived for 86 years. Goodbye, Grandpa. I love you. You were the greatest man I knew.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will called sons of God

14 comments:

Dave said...

wow...thanks

Anonymous said...

excellent tribute. thanks for sharing.

Mike said...

What an inspiring read. Thanks for sharing and condolences on your loss.

Jesse said...

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Rob Cullin said...

I'm so sorry for your family's loss, but obviously the gains he shared with you all, make it a life well lived.

colts girl said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I wept reading your entry. Beautiful.

coltsfanawalt said...

Thank you for this wonderful glimpse at a great life. People like him enrich the world and leave a big void in the hearts of those they touch.

I am praying for you today, and will keep you and your family in prayer this week.

Psalm 116:15

Andy said...

Condolences.

Countarfit said...

my condolences. I unfortunately lost both of mine early in my life so I know what you must be going through. He sounds like he was a great human being.


Sam Gupta

dacoltz said...

I am so sorry for your lost. He has obviously had a great impact on your life and has helped you become a great person.

HeatherRadish said...

That was a beautiful memorial. My sympathies to you and your family.

Bob M. said...

This is the second time I've read this. I wanted to write something the first time, but, well nothing would have done it so eloquently as you managed to do in your melded grief and joy. It was an amazing tribute and he sounds like an amazing guy.
When my mom died at the ripe old age of 63 it was a relief, as she was on her last legs for maybe 10 years and we we never real close. It was only when I had kids of my own, six years later, that I really missed her. I guess it's the things we carry with us, when loved ones pass, that is the measure of someone's time on earth. The more we carry, the greater the loss, but the greater the experience we had with them while they lived.
I'm truly sorry for your pain, but happy you have so many full, rich memories. Chin up.

Makes you really appreciate Gary Brackett all the more, eh? He is amazing on multiple levels.

Mosi said...

DZ - sorry to hear about your loss. Sounds like a pretty amazing man. The world these days could use alot more of folk like your granddad. In reading you post, it reminded me of a Mark Twain quote recited to me when my dad died: "Let us endeavor to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."

Puts all this "sports stuff" in perspective, doesn't it? At the end of the day, sports is entertainment to us, not our core. That's our family.

kacky said...

you did beautifully today.
grandpa truely was the greatest person i ever knew.
i love you so much.