On January 23rd, 2016 I found out about the passing of my grandfather. A man who was more than just my grandfather, but a friend, and someone who I could always count on; his passing was one of the most difficult days of my young life. During the time we had together he left an impression on me, and taught me things I will never forget. I thought I would share a few of them with you.
“MT” which stands for Martin Thomas, was what I referred to my grandfather as. He was an extremely sharp man. Although 76 years old at the time when he passed away, I would consider him a man who was wise beyond his years. He was one of those people who seemingly just “got it”. He knew what was important in life, and very rarely did you see him down and out. During his leg amputations he coined the mindset in which he tried to lead his life by as “PMA” or positive mental attitude. I think we all think of positive as a word that means happy-go-lucky all the time. In all actuality, positive mental attitude isn’t the absence of adversity in our lives, it’s our response to it. MT was the model of how to respond to adversity and keep perspective during stressful times. He always chose to be upbeat, optimistic, and look for the best in every situation.
Lesson: No matter what your day brings, you always have a choice in how you respond to your circumstances!
“Love ya man.” It’s a phrase that will stick with me forever. Why? It was the last words that I remember my grandfather saying to me as him and my grandmother dropped me off at the airport after our road trip to Arizona this past October. I’ll never forget the words he said to me that day, but more importantly I’ll never forget the way he made me and everyone else feel when we were in his presence. “MT” had a special way about him that spread to everyone else. Some people automatically liberate you with their presence, MT was one of them. Whether it was a joke he told, his unforgettable smile, or hysterical laugh- his energy was contagious. It lifted your spirits and automatically made you smile.
Lesson: Laugh as much as you can, smile, and wake up each day with unwavering enthusiasm.
MT was known for sharing stories, most specifically small-world stories. He certainly did his fair share of talking, but when you spoke, he listened. Then he usually followed it up with multiple questions- he truly cared about your life and everything that was going on in it. He loved other people with all of his heart and was genuinely interested in building authentic relationships. You knew you mattered and were important when you talked to him.
Lesson: Each of us can tap into the power of connecting and building authentic relationships by engaging in genuine conversation with the other person!
As hundreds and hundreds lined the doors during his visitation and service, I’m at peace knowing that my grandfather played a pivotal role and made an impact in the life of so many others.
“We may not change the world in its entirety, but we each have the power to entirely change our world and impact the lives of those in it.”
MT, you sure did that. You left a legacy. Smile, tell a joke, and rest easy knowing that you truly left this world better than you found it. I love ya, man!