Tomorrow I will be attending my grandfather's funeral. After 86 years of a life well lived, he was also one of the single most impactful people for me personally. I'll include a link to his obituary because his impact was far more reaching as you will read, but for me personally, his impact was truly legendary. I had mentioned in my podcast interview about how my grandad (papa) was a huge influence on helping me figure out my deeper purpose which would eventually become Grit.org. Instead of building a business around a product, the final result was building a business around a set of principles. But before we ever had those conversations, there were some very impactful philosophies that I learned from papa - that most of life's problems can be solved with a good joke, a good book (or movie), or a good bible verse.
There was a stretch of many years where every conversation with papa opened with his latest set of jokes. He and a friend of his passed around jokes like my grandmother passed around good recipes. It inspired me to equip myself with my own set of jokes to have prepared for my conversations with him. His favorite was 'Why does the hummingbird hum?'....Because it doesn't know the words to the song. It absolutely sparked an interest in me where there was a large stretch of my life where I was the 'funny guy' amongst my friends. But more importantly than being the funny guy, it taught me to find the humor in life. Get people to laugh and you will make more friends. Life doesn't always need to be so serious. There is a certain level of appreciation people have for those that make them laugh, and papa was an instrumental part of helping teach me that lesson.
In addition to having a couple good jokes in his back pocket, papa was always looking and searching for the next inspirational book or movie. Books or movies that taught a lesson, and looking back, usually some type of life principal on leading a happy life. Books or movies that had meaning meant to inspire, like 'The Noticer', 'The Giver', and 'Tuesdays with Morrie.' For some reason Joe vs. the Volcano was one of his favorite movies for a long time, maybe because Tom Hank's name was 'Joe' in the movie - which was my grandfather's first name. And papa was a crier, especially in the 2nd half of his life. There weren't many movies he watched that didn't make him cry, but it was also very endearing because he cared and loved so deeply. I think it was especially because of the specific principle that book or movie taught that he found incredibly moving.
There was absolutely no doubt that the most important part of his life was his personal relationship with Christ. The same with my grandmother. For my 16th birthday, they got me a gold ichthus necklace (the Christian symbol from Roman times) just like the one that we always wore. When I stayed with them for a summer back in high school, there was only one picture frame in the room I stayed in, and for my graduation present, they gave me the exact same framed picture. It was the verse - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and all these things shall be added unto you." His unwavering faith was such an inspiration to me, and I was fortunate to absorb the peace that verse brings because of how he lived his life by example.
I am very blessed for being able to have many conversations with papa leading up to his passing. There was no shred of doubt that the love he had for me was truly unconditional. It saddens me to know those conversations won't happen again, but yet I am also inspired to live a life protecting what he spent 4 decades teaching me and pass them on to anyone that will listen. I am truly standing on the shoulders of a giant, and my charge is to find as many people I can put on my shoulders as a result of what he has taught me. I love you Papa!