Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Measure of Greatness

We lost a great man today.

My Grandfather, the patriarch of our family, passed away this morning... peacefully, with family at his side.

It was the culmination of a 48 hour ordeal that resulted in the coming together of my family and a bedside vigil that was the true showing of just how great he was.

Because greatness is not something best measured by whether a life leaves a mark in a history text, but on how that life has touched those around him. And my Grandfather touched many lives. He was Santa Claus for 45 years. One by one we grandchildren discovered the truth about our Grandfather's ruse, but he brought smiles to thousands of children and seniors in that time.

And though he garnered the respect and thanks of many in our community over the years, the biggest impact he made in this world, hands down, was on all of us.

Just the fact that his family would race to be with him from all corners and never leave his side until the end is a testament to the man he was.

Children are who we raise them to be... and we are what we learned to be from our parents. The qualities that made my grandfather great are now filtering down to a fourth generation. I think loyalty and love, compassion and devotion, all tempered by the humor and strength that run deep in our family are admirable qualities... and they all trace back to him.

He was the father of our clan. And in the end, we were all there with him. 16 chairs surrounding his bed...quiet goodbyes, card games and conversations, laughter and tears... remembering with fondness all the wonderful memories he bestowed on three generations.

I have never lost anyone dear to me before.... but I can not imagine a more perfect way for a life to close. The coming together of our family, the closeness and sharing of strength, the chance to say goodbye and make peace with our imminent loss.... we made a cocoon of love in that room and, I at least, emerged with a truer understanding of what "family" truly means. And also what a great family my Grandfather made.

I'm filled with so many emotions right now. All swirling around inside... bright and sharp and fresh. Sadness, to be sure... but also peace. And high among my emotions is gratitude. Gratitude for the gift of my Grandfather and the family I was born into, I'm so proud to be one of his.

Thank you Grandpa, for who you were, for what you showed all of us to be, for everything. I'll love you always.

4 comments:

familyandthesuburbs said...

So beautifully written ... you were all lucky to have each other in your lives ...

Naomi said...

The words you've written are an amazing testament to the man he was ... and will FOREVER be in your hearts and memories!

Mbdiamond said...

Thanks guys... my mom has actually asked if I would share this blog post as part of his memorial service...

Hope said...

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.