The Grind & the Sudden Shift

20140201-145217.jpg  I’m posting from a coffee shop today, so thought it appropriate to use the word “grind” in the title 🙂  It’s been a while since my last post – life was full of distractions this fall and holiday season and I wasn’t very good about keeping up here.  That’s life I guess!  Sometimes, it’s hard to keep all the balls in the air.

One big thing happened in my life right before Christmas.  My grandpa Roman passed away.  He was hospitalized just before Thanksgiving, and within 3 weeks, he was gone.  He lived a wonderful life for 87 years, plus 2 days.  In fact, at the end, he was hoping to go on his birthday.  He was grateful he went quickly and was spared a lengthy illness; he had watched many of his friends and siblings who were not so fortunate.

The suddenness of his passing has me thinking lately.  About how life can be a grind sometimes.  Yet, in the grind, sometimes things change suddenly and irrevocably.  This happened in my grandpa’s life.  When he and my grandma were in their late 40’s, one night she got a bad headache, which turned out to be a stroke.  Although she recovered, the damage to her brain changed her personality and effected her memory.  She had medical challenges for the rest of her life – and all the plans they had for retirement and traveling had to be adjusted.

There is a quote I remember loving in college: “Dream as if you’ll live forever.  Live as if you’ll die today.”  Is that even good advice?  The older I get, the less sense those two sentences make.  How does one begin to reconcile the daily grind of life with the idea that your own little world can go down in flames at any moment? Plans are so feeble.  Yet how can you not make them? I can’t think about that too much because I’ll drive myself crazy.

My grandpa’s death has given me an opportunity to reflect on what he taught me about life.  There were many things – not really through direct advice.  I had 30 years to observe his character and perspective on life, so most of what he taught me was through example.  I think he managed to strike a balance between living in the here and now, and looking forward to tomorrow. In his life, he won and lost, enjoyed success and failure, times of joy and times of sorrow.  These things happen.  To all of us.  We will never know what they are or when they will come.  It doesn’t really matter.  From where I sit, the things that happened TO my grandpa didn’t define him – it was how he dealt with the good and bad.  He taught me to be generous, helpful and to look for the best in people.  To approach life with a spirit of optimism and gratitude no matter where you find yourself.  Those qualities served him well, in all situations.

I hope I never forget those things.

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