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Lessons in Life and Love from the Sickman

grief and loss, grandparent lossIt never failed.  “How are you doing, Grandpa?”

He’d hang his head a bit with an overly serious face, “Oh, not very good.  I’m a sick-man.” Then he would laugh and grin.

With a last name like Sickman and a healthy sense of humor, who could resist poking fun?  Certainly not him!

Though he’d been fading over the last year, it’s still hard for me to grasp that the funny and loving grandpa with the big personality is gone.  I miss him like crazy and feel his spirit all around. As my family is gathering in Minnesota to honor him and say good-bye, I am in Vermont finding my own way to honor his life and say my good-byes.  I couldn’t think of a better way to do it than by doing what I do best, writing, and reflecting on all I learned from his life.

Lesson #1: Always find the humor in life.

The best and probably most remembered legacy my grandpa is leaving behind is his huge sense of humor.  He always had a joke or funny story to lighten the mood – mostly corny, just plain silly, or even mildly inappropriate ones!  A little humor makes life better – even his passing is made lighter by the memories of his favorite corny jokes.

Lesson #2: Life life to the fullest.

I don’t know about the rest of my family’s memories, but I can’t really recall a time when Grandpa was grumpy.  He always seemed to me to make the best of every situation and find a way to make the best of things.  He worked hard all his life as a farmer and he played hard too in his relationships, travels, and talking.  Grandpa was a big talker 🙂 He lived a fairly simple life – and he did it with all his heart.  He loved living.

Lesson #3: Take pride in your life and accomplishments.

My grandparents had four daughters.  Once in a while I’d hear him joke about having been surrounded by women and needing more boys to even things up.  But he didn’t really mind.  His absolute pride in his daughters and wife shone through every time he said “my girls.” He told me once that he was so proud of “his girls” and that raising them was the best thing he’d done.

Lesson #4: Befriend everyone – never know a stranger.

I don’t think Grandpa ever met a stranger.  He was a talker and he talked to everyone…whether they wanted him to or not. 🙂 He was always friendly and ready with a story or joke to tell.  He created friends and connections wherever he went.  His world was a friendly world.

Lesson #5: Love unconditionally.

One of the things I loved best about my grandpa was that I always felt loved by him.  I always felt loved and accepted exactly as I was.  Never once did I feel with him that he wanted me to be anything or anyone other than who I was.  He made me feel loved and special and beautiful – exactly as I am.

May I live my life with as much spirit and love and laughter as you, Grandpa Sickman.  That’s how I will celebrate and honor your life.

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