When you lose a loved one people often ask, how did they pass? What if we started asking, how did they live? How did their life inspire your life? What if we truly celebrated their life instead of focusing on death? After being in Hospice for a few days my grandfather placed an end date on his lifespan…but his dash (that small dash on a headstone that represents life) was epic! And I’m so blessed to have had his dash overlap mine by 41 years. Though, it might surprise you to learn that my earliest memories weren’t necessarily so fond.
When I was a young child and everyone else would let me win at board games he held me to a higher standard. I lost game after game of Checkers to him, & grew frustrated and a bit upset. Until the day I finally won! The satisfaction that came with that win was a feeling like none other. Knowing that I persevered, I learned to study his strategies, eventually realizing that every loss was getting me a step closer to that final win! I learned the importance of being a strong loser, to welcome a challenge and see it as an opportunity for growth.
As an adult looking back on all the Checker games, the time, effort, & energy he poured into our time together…when he had to have been so tired & busy between work, 7 children, an ailing wife, etc. and he never made me feel like an inconvenience but rather a treasure to be cherished. He had a magnificent gift of making people feel like they were the most important person in the world when they spent time with him. He was a living example of what’s important in life…faith, family, people (not stuff) & love-not the “fleeting emotion” but real love which is a choice, the choice to consistently will and choose the good of the other. Talk about leaving a legacy…to leave an imprint in a banking account is fleeting, to leave an imprint on so many souls is infinite!
I will miss his laughter, his blue eyes, the way his entire body would light up when he smiled, but I’m so thankful for the faith, traits, lessons, and opportunities for growth that he instilled in his only daughter, my mom. And I’m thankful that though he only had one daughter and six sons he raised her to be strong, he didn’t let her win just because she was a girl.
James A Collins was a true testament of loving life. He survived cancer and other health issues in his 90 years but those weren’t who he was, people keep asking how did he pass? What if we started asking, how did he live? The next time you hear of someone losing a loved one what if we focused more on their life and less on their death?