Carrying On A Legacy

Carrying On A Legacy

For a legacy lives within each and every one of us.
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For most of us, death is complicated. For those dying, death is peaceful. For the religious, death is a destination. For the non-religious, death is death.

In my 20 years, I have been to three funerals. Two of those funerals were for my grandmothers who died from fighting a battle. I was young then, and I was scared. These experiences I had with death made me terrified of it, as well as illnesses. Death to me was exactly like the scene from "Macbeth" where, once he finds out his wife is dead, Macbeth compares life to a candle by saying, "The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!" Which is so true because a person can have their life taken as quickly as a candle is blown out. And that visual would give me the chills. It's no fun to lose someone you love. And it's especially no fun to have to wait around for someone to die because you know they are sick. It's exhausting, ruthless, and relentless.

About a year ago, someone who was in her 90s passed away. She was in my extended family way down the line somewhere. And even though I was really sad for those close to her, I was so happy because that's how life should be—someone should die when they are really old and shriveled up, with age spots on their hands and wrinkles that tell stories from living grand. When she passed away, I felt joy because she lived a long, eventful life. Her death was a long life to be celebrated.

This past week, my great-granddad passed away. Granddad was a farm boy who served in the U.S. Navy, earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Oklahoma in petroleum engineering, and eventually retired from Shell. He was the type of granddad who had a deep belly laugh and praised you whenever you told him a little story about yourself. Granddad was uniquely kind, loving, gentle, gracious, and tall—very, very tall. He had this unyielding and never-ending love for my great-grandmother and his crazy huge family. Granddad was the eldest of our clan, sitting as chairman for a genuine and devoted family.

His passing was hard; it was different from any feeling that I had ever experienced. His health was declining, so I knew his time was coming, but I still didn't feel prepared. In many ways, I was very happy that he led an amazing life and knew not only all of his grandchildren, but all ten of his great-grandchildren. How many people could say that? It really is a magical concept.

But his funeral weighed heavily on my heart. It hit me who I really lost and that I wouldn't hear that loud laugh, enthusiastic voice, or his famous Great Depression story ever again. And I cried. I cried, and I cried some more. I cried because I was happy, and I cried because I was sad. I cried because my late grandmother's sister (my late grandmother is divorced from my grandpa; aka my great-granddad's son) showed up to the burial on her behalf. I cried because my tough, football playing brother was crying. And I cried because there was so much love in one room.

In no way will my writing be as well-said as her eulogy, but in her eulogy, my great-aunt said that granddad was loving, kind, giving, and he smiled a lot. And she said that if you have a talent, share it with someone. If you love a person, tell them. Be kind, and smile at everyone. That was granddad.

My great-granddad did pass away, but his attributes, characteristics, manners, devotion, and love did not. For he lives within all of us, and it is our duty to carry on his wonderful legacy.

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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Summer = Rest?

Sometimes it feels as if we need a vacation... from our vacation.

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Ah summer: Popsicles and sun burns, mixed with fresh-squeezed lemonade that local kids are pandering to make enough money for Roman candles and Black Cats. The crack of the bat can be heard among the simmering charcoal grills and Troy-bilts humming through the ever-lasting sun. School is out and children are wild. It's a paradise.

Or is it?

But after countless sports camps and tournaments, other camps, vacations, school (?) events, traveling teams, VBS, summer seems to have been sucked fun-free.

Maybe it's Hollywood and Harper Lee's fault for giving us this utopian view of what summer should look and feel like (I'm looking at you Sandlot). But how can we really rest this summer? Because everyone needs some actual rest, even adults.

First thing is do NOT pack your summer full. Say no to some things. Coaches and Families can expect too much and it's okay to say no to them. You have to. There is no time for kids to be kids anymore.

Work can take a backseat. Vacations need to be taken. Families need to reconnect.

And for all my super-scheduled people out there, please PLEASE don't schedule out your vacation. Just enjoy it.

Another bit of advice would be to put away the technology and spend some time outside. When was the last time you tried to catch lightning bugs? Or went for a swim? Or listened to birds on your front porch?

I may sound like I have an old soul, but I really feel like we have lost this connection to the outside world. Summer is all about getting a farmer's tan and getting stung once or twice. I can guarantee you that's some of the best therapy in the world.

Maybe this sounds all over the place. Maybe this sounds like me ranting. And it probably is.

But I'm telling you that this stuff matters. Don't let summer whiz by and you arrive in August more drained that you were in May. Enjoy this time with family and friends.

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