Tomorrow, I’m heading to Birmingham Alabama. My family and I will be saying our final goodbyes to my grandfather. He died Sunday.
I am sad. I am very sad. But, I don’t see tomorrow as an overwhelmingly sad day. He lived a good, long, and happy life. He lived 92 years. 92 years is a good stretch on this planet. I hope I get 92.
Death is a good reminder. It reminds us that we really do only have one life. It reminds us that we should take care of the people around us. We should spend time with the people we love. We should do the things we’ve always wanted to do.
I have a lot of fond memories of my grandfather. He was a pretty funny guy, although I don’t think he was always trying to be funny.
A couple of years ago, though, he said something to me that I’ve never forgotten. He said, “I heard once that there was a train you could ride all the way across Canada. I always wanted to do that. I never did.”
I didn’t really know what to say.
That statement by my grandfather reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Mark Twain. He said:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. “
We don’t like to think about much, but we all have an expiration date. There’s nothing we can do to stop it.
If you have a dream, go for it. Even if you fail, at least you can say that you tried.
I’m proud of my grandfather. He fought for this country in World War II. Guadalcanal. He stayed married to the same woman all of his life. He worked hard, built his own house, and built his own life with his own hands.
Tomorrow my cousins and I will carry him out into a field and put him in the ground.
I will you again, Papaw. But not yet. Not yet.