Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Life, a Precious Gift?

Grandpa and I were sitting in the local restaurant having coffee with a good friend. The friend made a remark that I just knew would draw grandpa’s ire. I could just see the veins popping out of his head as he sat listening. It was one of those times that both grandma and I knew we were well off staying out of earshot of grandpa’s tirade.

A funny thing occurred though as the friend finished speaking. Grandpa just looked at me and said that it was time to leave. We both bid the friend a good day and got up and left. The way home was filled with a silence that was so loud that even the air seemed to realize it shouldn’t be around grandpa. When we got home grandpa didn’t go into the house and just shook his head when I started to.

Grandpa took me out to his favorite spot on the farm this wintry day. When we got there he just looked at the scenery that was before us. It was a scene that we beheld so often during the summer months yet still was a brand new scene this day.

The trees, barren of their leafy garments but wrapped so beautifully in their blanket of snow to await that day when they will again clothe themselves in brand new garment of green. My feet seemed like they were freezing as we stood there but I could not help but think that very same snow gave all that it covered the warmth of one of grandma’s homemade quilts.

Then grandpa spoke in a tone that was ever so reverent;

“ Boy, life is the most precious gift a person will ever be given him. Without it we’d never see and know of the beauty that we behold in front of us. Spend your life in a manner that declares that you are giving thanks for the fact you are privileged to know what life has to offer us.

This, to me, can only be described as the meaning of honor. We know that many cultures made a tradition of remembering those who came before them. Eastern cultures did so by having altars to enshrine their ancestors. We see this tradition in Jewish cultures as described in the Bible as it traced the lineage of the Christ. It is as if these cultures recognized that their own lives could only be because of those that came before them.

We even have a version of it in this nation. We have given two days to the recognition of those whom we should ever be thankful for, our mothers and our fathers. On those two days, we the children, of the one who bore us and the one who sired us, declare our thanks for the life we have.

While we may honor those that gave us this very special gift of life, we must never forget someone else. We must never forget the mother and father of he who gave up his life so that we may have the way of life we have. If love of a nation is to be called patriotism then they be the highest of patriots.

Our friend and his wife offered a sacrifice for this nation that few people can understand. They gave their only son. They could have no more children because of complications at their son’s birth.

With the death of their son, life lost all meaning for a man who felt he had been given the greatest of gifts with the birth of his son. When that gift was taken away from him bitterness filled a heart that should be filled with joy and pride. It is a sacrifice that I can never forget and I hope you never forget that there are men like him and recognize just how much he gave up.”



Average American said...

Griper, I am left to assume that the friend of whom you speak lost a son in the service of our country. If that is true, he must be made aware that a large number of Americans honor and appreciate his and his sons sacrifice. Please tell him so.

BB-Idaho said...

The loss of a child is one of the saddest things to befall a parent.
I've know some parents like that, and it leaves a hole that never entirely goes away. I am not religious, but met with a Paster friend one morning for breakfast and the subject came up. I noted that it must be the greatest challenge to comfort bevreaved parents..soon we were both crying in our coffee. IMO, we grow up and have kids and the natural order is that we gradually age and die and they carry on. I suppose that death in battle might be more acceptable than a car accident, brain cancer or leukemia..but all parents can and must grieve...and grieve.

The Griper said...

my primary purpose was to present the whole idea of patriotism from a different view.

the second purpose was to give the sacrifice of a life a different meaning akin to John, chapter 3, verse 16, man's version of God's act.

tweetey30 said...

This post makes loads of sense. Thanks for sharing it and makes you really think in many other ways other than we normally do.

BB-Idaho said...

Another view of patriotism, from the Japanese soldier of WWII..
". . . be resolved that duty is heavier than a mountain, while death is lighter than a feather."—First Precept of the Imperial Rescript to Japanese Soldiers and Sailors. Hari-kari, Samurai & Kamikazi...patriotism gone too far?

The Griper said...

goods question, BB. how far is too far and what is the price of certain concepts. it seems to lead us back to the idea of honor and its cost, doesn't it? is the price we are willing to pay a recognition of the importance of certain things in life?

a parent willing to die so that their child or loved one may live, is it the importance of that person in one's life or the concept behind it that is important?

if we look back in history we find that family ties were not all that important when they are willing to kill them or even now when you hear of family members killing kinfolk for selfish reasons.

msladydeborah said...

What a painful experience for your friends. I can relate to how they might feel. I lost my firstborn granddaughter before she was two years old. That was quite a heart breaking moment in my life.

I am also an only child of an only child. My mother has said on more than one occasion that she hopes and prays that I will out live her because she could not imagine what it would be like without me.

Death is an aspect of life that is so difficult to just accept. No matter how it happens or when it happens. We all have that moment in common.

I hope and pray that your friends are blessed with the comfort that they need to cope with their loss.

BB-Idaho said...

Honor..cost. Ya know, Griper I got to wondering about that and the 'death before dishonor' tatoo thing. As usual I got way off track (other than the only military unit in the world with that as a motto is an artillery battalion in Australia-Mors Ante Aussies speak Latin) and found an interesting place where they have military mottos
..where I will return, just cuz it is quite interesting. But honor, it seems relates and may even be
synonomous with 'duty'..thus the
West Point code Duty Honor Country.
And the more compelling example of
'above the call of 'duty' resulting in the Medal Of 'Honor'.
Back when I was in, you did your duty..and it was honorable.

Gayle said...

This post was so well written I had to read some of it twice to pick up the point of it, Griper. The build up was great and I couldn't help admiring your style. I loved the description of "the trees, barren of their leafy garments, etc." See what I mean. It was beautifully written!

Personally, I don't believe we Americans honor our ancestors nearly enough and many surely don't honor this country enough. It's sad, but there are far too many who consider honor, duty and patriotism hokey.

The Griper said...

we cannot leave out power and authority, BB. you also obeyed a legal command and in that obedience it may cost your life.

thank you, Gayle. i like your observation. seems to add to the value of this post.

hello, deborah,
"Death is an aspect of life that is so difficult to just accept."

yes it is. it is the one time in life we see only what we lose instead of what was given to us then given back to the One who was kind enough to give it to us in the first place.

Zeeva Daveed said...

The loss of a child must be the worst of all atrocities. My condolences. Thank you for the lovely essay.



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