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To a Good Man

December 28, 2011

Today, December 28, 2011 would have been my paternal grandfather’s 100th  birthday.  He didn’t make it to 100 – but he tried.  He passed away on January 3, 2007 – exactly one week after his 95th birthday.

I’d call him every year on his birthday and instead of saying “I’m 95 today” he’d say very joyfully, “I’m 95%!”  He always said that if he made it to 100 – 100% – that he would then be perfect. Well, he didn’t make it to perfection, but he came very close.

Reflecting back on how he would state his age, I realize that he wasn’t just trying to be funny. He was actually being rather philosophical – although he wouldn’t see it as such. You see, my grandfather’s life had been an extraordinary and sometimes very difficult journey.  He suffered great hardship from a very young age and didn’t always lead the most exemplary life as an adult. I truly loved hearing his stories and as I would learn more and more, I was amazed by the fact that despite his circumstances at any given time, he knew how to enjoy life. He loved people and always had a warm, genuine smile on his face.

I think that he had such a good attitude about life because he wasn’t too hard on himself. Oh, he was ambitious and competitive enough to make a good living for his family, but he always seemed to be able to handle stresses in life easily. And, perhaps he was able to do so because he gave himself time – time to grow, time to learn, etc. He was smart enough to realize that at age 35, 45, etc. he didn’t know as much as he would know the older he became. He also understood that with aging comes wisdom – either that or dementia – so growing older never seemed to bother him.

It’s taken me a few years to figure out just what he meant and was really trying to say when he last said to me, “I’m 95%!” And since I’ve realized the underlying meaning of how he stated his age, I’m not so hard on myself. I’ve got quite a ways to go before I reach “perfection” but on the journey to that destination I will follow my grandfather’s example and continue to grow and learn.

So, Happy Birthday Papaw! You were a good, 95% perfect man who was loved, appreciated and will always be missed.

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