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  • Writer's pictureLona

Death: The Great Equalizer

This past Saturday, my grandfather died. And I never realized how many of my personality traits were from him until he died. He was usually a staunch, unforgiving, confident character in our family. He had the audacity to do anything. And I judged him for it. But on his death bed I realized that I'm the way I am partly because of growing up next to him.

We weren't overly tight. I don't know if he was really tight with anyone. He was a loner, mostly. Sticking to his personal views on all things. No one I knew could ever change his mind. And he was sure of himself. Certainty was his modality. I rarely ever saw him question his beliefs whether it was about money, politics, religion, or work. And he worked hard. He had many projects going at the same time, and always seemed to bounce back and forth into each assuredly.

I see him as the product of his generation. Unemotional, uncompromising, and expectations through the roof. I learned from him from a distance. You never wanted to be too close, or you might get an earful. But I watched. I watched what he did, I watched how others treated him, and I watched how he treated others. I knew I didn't want to be like him in many ways, but that means I didn't even realize how much I was like him until the end.

I think one of my most incredible traits is my unyielding confidence. My mom is pretty confident, but not like Poppy. However, this level of confidence doesn't come without down sides. Like him, I am usually confident even when I don't really know what I'm doing. People follow me, even when I don't know what's next. It's my confidence that has gotten me incredible opportunities, and also judged hard. You see, this level of confidence is off-putting, even scary, to people who don't have it. It used to push people away until I learned some ways of dealing with it. I'm not sure if Poppy ever learned those lessons.

Because I had this model for what not to do, I learned how to do it better. I knew that other people weren't like me, and I also cared that they got what they wanted. My best friend growing up was very timid, she almost never asked directly for what she wanted. So, I made sure to find out what she really wanted before making decisions. She would have followed me either way, but this way I knew she was taken care of, too. The same in my intimate relationships. I seem to date people who aren't like me (probably thankfully), and it is always really important to me to get their honest opinions and feedback. Sometimes this hurts. Sometimes I see how it would be easier to just ignore them and do what I want. But mostly it pays off to let them be honest, even at the cost of me not getting what I want.

Poppy, in his own way, helped shape me into a person who was staunchly standing on my own two feet, but not crushing the people beneath me. And I'm very thankful for that. Last Saturday my mom texted me that it wasn't looking good for him. He had stopped eating and smoking, and I knew the end was near. Even though we weren't really close, I felt a desire to help him. From 3500 miles away I did what I could.

I spent over 3 hours that morning meditating, lighting incense, pulling tarot cards, cleansing his energy, sending spirits to help him on his journey, and clearing the way for his soul to pass. I had never done anything like this for him before, mostly because I knew he wasn't into that shit. But this seemed different. This felt like it was accepted, even welcomed. Death is truly the great equalizer. We were equals that day, in a strange way. He wasn't on a pedestal, and I wasn't below him. I wished him a beautiful passing and he died in his sleep. Later, I found out that about the time I finished my meditations, he died. It felt strange, but like that was meant to be.

I'm travelling back to Delaware for his funeral, and I truly feel like this is a celebration. A celebration of his life and a celebration of his legacy. Whatever that legacy may be to each of us. I feel like the whole family has a different interpretation of that legacy, and I think that's a celebration, too. So, cheers to him, and cheers to all the souls who have died this year. May you find what you came for.

INSPIRED ACTION: What does the term, death is the great equalizer, mean to you?

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