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Nov 29, 2008

Giants Among Us

Have you even had the experience of going to a funeral, and after it's over you think to yourself, I didn't know all these wonderful things about the person I cared about who just passed. I had no idea they had so many of theseparticular strengths. Why didn't I learn from them while they were here? Why didn't I notice who they were inside? Why didn't I appreciate them and learn from them?

I think so many times in our lives, we are so short-sighted and focused on our lives, we don't open our eyes and see, nor value what is around us. Sometimes we are so used to looking at the negatives about people, looking at what irritates us, their faults, their appearances and various other criteria we use to judge others that we never realize we might be living with someone who is truly a giant, in some way.

I drove to visit family members in Idaho this weekend. As I drove, I thought about my brother. Nine years ago he suffered a heart attack. He sustained permanent brain damage as a result. During the first few weeks after the heart attack, I remember hearing so many wonderful things about him from so many of the people that reached out to all of us at that time. Here I had grown up with him, loved him dearly, but truly didn't know some of wonderful strengths he possessed as a husband, father, colleague, neighbor and etc. nor did I know how many lives he had touched. I could clearly remember his faults, as only a sibling could. I knew many of his strengths, as I could tell stories of some awesome things he did. However, I fully failed to value all that he was and all that he contributed to life.

For those of you that have been following my blog since I started, you may remember me talking about my brother-in-law who died of Lou Gehrig's disease. His influence is the one that sent me on the "self-renovation" journey these last three years. He was a member of my family for over 30 years. True, he lived far away, so it was hard to get to really know him well. However, for many of the 30 years, I focused sometimes on things I "blindly perceived as faults". The fault turns out to have been in me. I never knew anything about the true giant in my own family. I began to get to know him better, during some visits to Utah to help take care of my mother, before she passed. Not too long after that, he received the diagnosis of the disease that took his life. As I watched him fully live his live with such courage, strength and joy, in the face of death no less, I learned a little tiny bit about who he really was. As my eyes began to open, I began to look at other things I should have seen, that could have alerted me to who he was.

He was raising 5 sons to be the most honorable young men. As many of them married and began having families, I saw the dedicated, patient and loving fathers and husbands they were. Through looking at his legacy, I began to see the giant soul who had a hand in shaping their futures. Why did it take me so many years and tragedies to see?

Why do we so often wait for tragedies to really appreciate what we have in life? I'm making a vow to look closely at the lives of those who cross my path for the good in them. I plan to conscientiously focus on the positives and the good of those people. I also want to let them know how much I see their strengths and value their contributions, whether to me, to their families, to their neighbors, colleagues and etc. I hope that by opening my eyes to the giants among us, I can learn from their examples, grow as a person and maybe, just maybe make a positive contribution to the lives of others.


cami said...

fun to see our conversation in a full post!!! I enjoyed visiting with you this weekend, hope we can do it again soon.

Kasey Byrd said...

Wow! What an inspiring post that was! It made me look at my grandma and how far she has come as well and it's sad to see her losing her memories slowly day by day, but then I look at my mom and my aunts and uncle and they have learned so much from their mother that even though my grandma is becoming weaker as the years go by, her soul and my grandpa, who passes away 20 years ago this coming January, still lives on in each of my famly members. It's truly amazing and I try very hard to remember what a wonderful woman my grandma has always been, even if she is fading little by little now and sometimes it's hard to do that. Keep being strong, Ann.

Ann said...

I loved our chats this weekend Cami! Yeah, I felt so strongly about the stuff we were talking about, and I was thinking about on the drive to Idaho, I just HAD to blog about it!

Kasey, hang in there. Do hold on to all those special memories of your grandmother and all that she is. I've been where you're at, when I watched my dad go through Alzheimers. The memories may go, but they awesome people they are at heart remains behind.

Anonymous said...

Ann, thanks for the wonderful comments about Dick. I didn't really appreciate him as much as I should have too. He truly is a giant. His example helped shape me to where I am now too! - paula