If you’re anything like me, then very few things put life into perspective like a loved one passing away. It’s unfortunate that it can take something so drastic to get us to reflect in meaningful ways, but there are few things like death that stop us in our tracks and get us to think. Even Alanis Morissette would agree, it’s ironic how death often reminds us how to live a better life. But, even those of us that believe in life after death, we can’t help but wonder what it will really be like.
There are many near death experiences bouncing around the internet, and it was my privilege to help a neighbor recently share his experience when he was pronounced dead for 20 minutes. That video has now been seen millions of times, and it is a testament to our curiosity about death and how it relates to our life now. Do our actions matter? Does God exist? Such questions have been around for-stinking-ever. Like as long as the stinkiest stink stunk the stinkies (band name or children’s book?).
A couple years ago my grandfather passed away, and it really got to me. His death was one of the hardest I’ve had to endure, but for very different reasons than you might expect. I am in fact one of the people faces that believe in life after death. I full on expect to see him again someday. If you don’t get into that belief, no worries, we can still be buddies. I spoke all about the need of having empathy and respect for each other already, but if you need a refresher… then, you can go back and refresh yourself.
Many years ago my grandfather on my mom’s side of the family passed away, and while I was bummed, he lived a wonderful life, he was 91 and I have many memories to hold on to until I’d get to see him again. Like all of the drives to the local grocery store King Soopers, where he would pull from his secret stash of soda in the garage for us to drink on our long journey of two blocks. The barking spiders he’d stamp out, the talks about life, the witty jokes, all of the awesome commercials he was in, and the unconditional love is a tiny example my relationship with him.
But with my grandpa on my Dad’s side, his passing filled me with regret. The feeling lasted for days, and it inspired me to work toward some changes in my life. On the day he died, in the middle of all those “feels”, I didn’t know how to find the solace I was searching for. It was a different feeling than I’d ever experienced, and it caught me off guard. So, I just started writing down my feelings. This is what I wrote:
Today He Died
(An unorthodox tribute to my Opa)
I truly know so little about the man. Strip everything away, and despite some of the pain and grief he caused his family, I feel he had a good heart. He only ever showed me kindness.
In some ways, he and his wife are the two of the most considerate people I know. They never missed sending my wife and I a card and check for our anniversary. We don’t have any other family or friends that even remember the day we were married, let alone send money and thoughts on that day. I don’t know how much of that was his wife, or him, but he at least approved of the diminishing funds in their bank account for anniversaries, birthdays, and christmas gifts for my family, and many others I’m sure.
His blood lives in my veins, and yet don’t know him well enough to know if I have anything in common with him. Do I have any characteristics, traits, passions, concerns, or thoughts like him?
My father was named after him. I think he was named after his father. It’s sad that I don’t know that for sure. My second son carries on the same name as a middle name. We would have carried it on as a first name, but Ewald is a pretty weird name. Haha.
Life has a way of reminding you from time to time to not let it go to waste. I always figured I would have the chance to try and get to know him better. I always thought my kids could meet their tick tock Opa. I always thought I could have a heart to heart with him and maybe gain a better understanding why he did some of the things he did. While I am one to believe I well may have the chance to do all of those things in the next life, his passing is hitting me harder than I thought it would.
Why is that? Maybe because I just wish I could have know him better? I heard that he passed with a smile on his face. I hope that’s true. Something for all of us to hope for I guess. I don’t think he was really the “heart to heart” kind of guy anyway.
I think the reason it’s hitting me like this is, I can’t say I really did my part at trying to get closer to him. Why didn’t I just call him up and talk to him more often? Why did I have the stupid idea that I would have time “someday” to meet up with him and get to know him better? Again, another reminder to get the “somedays” out of my vocabulary and freaking act on things today.
He wants his ashes spread at some location in Las Vegas. This alone shows how little I knew him. I wish when I heard his “ash spreading request” I would have known instantly why Las Vegas. I have no idea what ties he has to that place. Maybe he was an Elvis fan.
He doesn’t want a funeral. He had four kids. My dad, the oldest, then a girl, and a set of twin boys. He was only directly in their life until my dad was about the age of 7, from what I remember.
I guess this is my version of a funeral and a tribute. I heard the news and I just started writing. I don’t want to dwell on the bad parts of his life, but the good and the bad made him who he was. He sure seems like he was a cute little German father and husband during the years he was there. He and my grandma married very young. My dad was born when my grandma was only 17 or so.
I’ll never forget the day I happened to Google his name, and I stumbled on an old California news paper article from Oct 24th,1960. It explained that my grandparents took my father and my aunt, who were only 3 and 1 at the time, away for the weekend to stay at a friends house. When they came home their house had been maliciously burned down. The words “Natzi Rats” was spray painted in the backyard on a cinder-block fence.
They were German, but only children at the time of the war. I was dumbfounded that I had never heard this story. I asked my dad, and he knew of it, but he was very little. My dad is also not one to just tell story after story of his life. There is a quiet calculated calm about both my dad and his dad. One trait I know for bloody well sure I did not inherit.
I have to think that many of us were not as close to him as we could be. For some, it was not just complacency like me, but intended distance. Some would not and maybe never will have any interest in him. I suppose this is something he knew could be a reality given his choice to leave his family for a new love.
My grandma was pregnant with the twins when this sad event unfolded. From what I understand, he deeply fell in love with the wife of his best friend. The feeling must have been mutual. This woman also left her family for my grandpa, and they jumped town. The feeling stayed mutual for the rest of their lives. She was at his side in their home when he passed this morning.
I can’t justify the action, and I have no more information than this. Even if I didn’t love my wife and found some new hottie, I could never leave my kids. So I can’t understand how it unfolded. But, crap. We all make stupid mistakes. I wish he could have found a way to follow his heart with who he loved and not ditch his kids.
But, that is way in the past. And whatever the case may be, it will only canker and foul up our souls and our well-being for any of us to think down on him. Hate’s not a good flavor of the month at anytime. Forgiveness will always taste the sweetest, and it’s totally not fattening.
He is my Opa, and I wish I could have gotten to know him better.
I know he loved to travel and see the world. I know he wasn’t terribly spiritual. I know he wore hilarious white gloves when he drove cars. He loved to drive. I heard he was a pretty good dancer in his day. This is about I all know. I look forward to learning more. Love ya Opa. See ya on the other side!
PPP and DDD? Huh?
It’s been over two years since I wrote that. I decided to share it now because some of the messages line up perfectly with the I Will Thrive mentality. Maybe someone out there will take my word for it and find a way to reconnect with an estranged parent, sibling, or friend. The “somedays” may never come, get to that crap today. I’m going to get that etched on a pillow.
If you’ve been around here awhile, you’ll know what P.P.P. stands for, and it isn’t a resolve to urinate emphatically. It stands for a Personal Power Pact. Around the time of writing that tribute, I also made a P.P.P., haha. Making P.P.P.’s is the best. Let’s quote myself again, because it’s silly and it makes me feel great and really weird at the same time. I said:
Life is good. I have like 17 thousand kids, and being a dad is really the coolest thing I’m involved with. Aside from that, I am working on:
- three youtube projects (which require research, writing, and editing)
- writing a book
- writing two full length screenplays
- trying to find money for my big full feature, the film of my dreams, one I think could really be a piece that could help people too.
- writing and publishing a comic on iLoveZombies.com
- writing and recording music for my solo project and with a couple other groups
It’s nuts, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I mention all those things, not to be a pompous dog butt, but to remind myself why I am doing all this. It’s really simple. I love it. So in connection with that, I’ve got a new slogan: Don’t Die Dumb.
Triple D. I’m not talking about about your large auntie Roberta’s bosom. My three D’s mean that I really don’t want to regret this life. I don’t want to die with a single thought back. I want to rid my life of any snide remarks and stupid judgements. I want love and kindness to be my legacy. So, Don’t Die Dumb ya’ll! Find a way to work on what you love, and love those around you like a beast.
My Opa’s passing is what really got me thinking about making the most of right now and stop putting off what’s important. It’s time to live! I’m even busier now than I was two years ago, but I’m more focused. I no longer have a day job to cover the expenses of my family.
My success is no longer a fun idea, I demand it. It is necessary for me and my family. I’m more determined than ever to find ways to provide for my family without a corporate job, and to give value to the world via the projects that sing to my soul.
So, Don’t Die Dumb! And let’s Thrive into the future! I can’t say I’m always that guy, but I’m far closer than I’ve ever been, and progress is…, (crap what’s a synonym for progress? Google? I can’t say “progress is progress” that would be a terrible ending.
Progress is advancement. haha, nope. Maybe all of the synonyms would sound cool and that’s how we’ll end?) Progress is a progressy progression advancing in an advancement giving headway and passage. Haha nope, still awful. Onward friends! Let’s all P.P.P. and Thrive!
VIDEO version of this episode HERE
PODCAST version of this episode HERE