He Did It His Way
We all have priorities. For some it’s to be successful and make a lot of money. For others, it’s work less and spend more time doing what you love. For my grandfather, now 93, his goal has always been to take care of his family. After a lifetime of experiences, some no one should ever have, never once did he say, “Woe is me.” Instead his motto was forge ahead, work hard, save for a rainy day. He raised 3 children and celebrated with the addition of each of his 9 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.“I did it my way,” Papa said last week, reflecting back, as we were out for a walk on The Cape. “I helped put kids through college and helped pay for homes. It wasn’t so easy, but I did de best I could. Now I’m ready to go.”
Of course no one wants to hear a loved one talk about “checking out,” but Papa doesn’t say it out of depression as much as he’s ready, his checklist of accomplishments complete. Plus he’s tired, more from constant worrying than years spent working hard. He persevered, despite… well, we know what the despite is.
Over the last few years, the feedback he gets from readers of his life story saying it helped them get through their own hard times, now brings him hope. What a wonderful cycle.
Whenever I haven’t seen or spoken to Papa in awhile, this is how our conversations begin.
“How are book sales?”
“Are you busy working?”
“Are you saving money?”
“Good. Enjoy your life.”
“Enjoy your life” has become his new tag line. After nine decades that’s what he has deemed most important. And he should know after all those curve balls he had thrown at him.
Last week was the Jewish New Year and for the first time in years Papa was with us. Seated next to his 7-year-old great-grandson, the two were equally enamored with the other, hugging and talking all evening. It reminded me of the film “18 Again” when George Burns, at 81, turns into his 18-year-old grandson. Would Papa like to go through life again? If really given the opportunity, I would bet yes, though according to him, no, he’s prepared to go. But, as we all keep telling him, not yet.