Many times on this blog I’ve mentioned my grandpa that lives in Costa Rica. As a child, he was kind of a hero to me. A larger-than-life figure and seemed like an older version of Crocodile Dundee with a little Indiana Jones mixed in. He was physically fit into his nineties and sharp enough to beat anyone at chess (unless you played him after his bedtime). The house he lives in is on a little slice of paradise with breathtaking views and nature all around. He whiles his day away coming up with inventions and reading.
Growing up I thought he had it all. Or at least in the things that appealed to me as a youth. Health, wisdom, and living on a beautiful mountain in Costa Rica. He had family members nearby or visiting often. He has children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that are, for the most part, doing very well.
I had spent summers as a kid in Costa Rica with my grandparents, and even though I am naturally pretty oblivious, I knew something was weird with my grandparents’ relationship. In 2015, I worked remotely from my grandparents’ house for two months and my grandpa told me his life story. It was full of bitterness and long-held grudges.
When I arrived here a few weeks ago, my grandpa was spending the majority of his time in bed or in a wheelchair. He had a hard time eating and would get easily winded. It was strange to see someone who always had so much life to him be so… reduced.
One morning at breakfast, my grandpa told me he was ready to go. This wasn’t something new, he has been saying to me he is ready to meet the Lord for the last two decades or so. But this time he told me how his brother had a good life, he had many patents, created inventions, and was surrounded by loved ones when he died.
After a while, I asked him, “Did you have a good life, Grandpa?”
“NO!”, he told me with more enthusiasm than I had seen him have all week. He then listed off all the ways that his life was bad. Much of this was what he told me when I stayed with him in 2015, so I knew that the way he felt wasn’t because of his recent predicament.
My hope for my grandpa has always been that he would have a change of heart. Over the years I have had many talks with him about what I thought Jesus was trying to teach us about loving our enemies. About how love is defined in Corinthians. This is a guy who wakes up at 4 am every morning to read the bible for a few hours so I thought it would be an easy sell.
I said all this to say, people are mirrors. Some people are put here so you can look at them and see how not to live. You can look at your life and easily dwell on the bad parts, and when you focus on those enough, that can seem to be all there is. Or you can focus on the good things in your life and Hey! It seems like your life is going well.
It’s all in your perception.
You only have this one life. Even if there is say, reincarnation, there couldn’t be another just like you. So make the most of this time you have until whatever is next.
If there are people that make you miserable, try to take a different approach to your interactions with them. I joke around mercilessly. If that doesn’t work, cut them out of your life. If you can’t cut them out try to keep your time with them to a minimum.
When I was younger, I would think about people who had committed suicide. I never understood why you would want to give up a gift that was so precious. If it was me, and things were that bad, I would quit everything, move and start over if I had to. Then I realized their thought process might be that wherever they went, they would still be there. They were the common denominator of the wrong things in their life. So really you also have to learn to love yourself, even with all your faults. Understand your past and make the decision to move on. By committing to improving, slowly but surely you can overcome or accept and be the best you that you can be.
Geez, here I am getting preachy.
Shortly after my last talk with grandpa, he started throwing up a lot of blood and was sent to the hospital. He has been there for two weeks with no word until yesterday on how he is doing (yay, socialized medicine!).
My hope is that he will come home soon, but more than that will have the epiphany that his life was really pretty good. He might have made some bad choices but on the whole, has made the most with what he was given. While he is alive, I have hope for him. Even writing that down seems like a long shot, but I will take the lesson he taught me to heart and hope if you are reading this you will too.