On December 10, 2013 my Papa James passed away. Papa James was technically my great uncle but because of family issues I had always known him and his wife to be my grandparents.
I write about this going into the new year because I believe Papa has taught me a very valuable lesson about life–something we can all learn from and, going into a week where people make resolutions for themselves for the up and coming year, believe this lesson will motivate us all to make a resolution we should never stop.
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In 2004 I made the decision to become an active Christian again. Most of my family did not agree with this decision because my biological father was of a similar faith. The difference was, though similar in doctrine and the same in title, my biological father was an extremist and had abusive tendencies. The rest of my family believed that all Christians in my particular denomination were exactly like him and, as a result, they disagreed with my decision to live how I chose to live. Furthermore, many of them refused to talk to me and decided they no longer wanted me in their lives.
Papa died having not talked to me the last nine years of his life.
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I loved Papa very much and recall some great wisdom he had imparted into me when I was a young teenager but I feel that since his passing a few weeks ago he has taught me the greatest lesson of all:
Life is too short to allow grudges, disagreements or any other hindrances to separate yourself from the people you love.
Now, Papa was the kind of person who was kind to everybody and would offer a helping hand whenever needed. Always giving of himself, a joy to be around and the ideal everyone’s-favorite-grandpa type, I do not believe the wall that separated us the last nine years of his life was indicative of the kind of person he was at all.
It was merely a misunderstanding on his part that played off of fear that I would become someone I didn’t want to be, and a lack of effort on my part to try and reconcile beyond the few attempts I had made. If only I had been more adamant that this barrier needed to be broken, this nine year period of silence may have not happened.
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Going into 2014 would you make a resolution with me?
- Do not allow disagreements, quarrels, or other hindrances to separate you from the people you love.
- Chase the people separated from you because of those hindrances and attempt to make them right. There are no guarantees that the person will want reconciliation but the best case scenario is that they do; the worst case scenario is that you are exactly where you were before trying.
Would you make this a resolution you follow through on continuously and not just from January 1st through January 7th, then forget it for the rest of your life?
I Love You, Papa.
“When kids are little they do what is right because they don’t want to get into trouble and get spanked. When they become teenagers they do what is right to avoid getting grounded. When they turn 16 and get their license they follow the traffic laws to avoid getting tickets, and when they turn 18 they follow the law to avoid going to jail. But there comes a point in everyone’s life where they have to decide that they’re going to do the right thing not to avoid getting into trouble, but because it is the right thing to do.”