All Saints’ Day: Life Lessons from Paw-Paw
This All Saints’ Day, I am celebrating one of the singularly most important people in my life, my Paw-Paw.
Paw-Paw died ten years ago this December, and not many days go by that I don’t think of him.
He taught me to work with my hands, to laugh from my belly, to sing from my heart and to love life and family deeply and unconditionally. His smile and infectious chuckle could bust through the thickest darkness. There was truly no one like him, and I have spent much of my life striving to meet his example.
As I write this, my wife is most likely days if not hours from giving birth to our first child. As I have prepared mentally for this life-altering event, I have thought a lot about the lessons I learned from Paw-Paw. I have practiced the conversations that I will have with my son, and the stories I will tell him about this monumental figure that he will never meet.
Paw-Paw lives, because I remember him. My son will know him from the tall tales that I spin, only slightly larger than reality.
One of the greatest gifts that Paw-Paw gave me was the understanding that generosity comes from within. He grew up during the Great Depression in a family with very little. As an adult, he counted his pennies. However, after his death, the stories of his eagerness to give of himself poured out of the many whose lives he touched. Paw-Paw, like George Bailey from It’s A Wonderful Life, was the richest man in town.
I am not just an employee, you see, I also support the work we do with our partners and friends around the globe with a monthly donation to Episcopal Relief & Development. Each month I think of Paw-Paw’s example, and I give with joy.
I don’t make a large donation because I don’t have the means to give great sums, especially now with a baby looming large on the horizon. However, I give because I believe in what we do at Episcopal Relief & Development. I give because I want my Paw-Paw’s legacy to be present in even tiny actions of respecting the dignity of others.
I give because I want my son to learn from me that we all have value. And whatever we have to give makes our world richer and more filled with love.
This All Saints’ Day think of the Paw-Paw’s in your life, and consider what it means to give from your own gratitude and from the deep well of goodness that connects us. Perhaps even honor those people by giving to the ones in the world most in need of that generosity.
Chad Brinkman is the Engagement Program Officer at Episcopal Relief & Development.
Image Captions: Top: Paw-Paw with his grandsons; Middle: Chad’s Paw-Paw and Nanny; Middle 2: Paw-Paw enjoying a snowy day.