My grandpa liked to make up odd names for me and this was one of them. It came up every time that I chose not to do something when he thought I should do it – like mowing the lawn, taking the newspapers to the recycling, or doing my homework. Yet no matter how much he called me “Mr. Put-off-ski,” I always chose to do whatever chore I had to do at a time that was convenient to me. Of course, this was especially the case when I arrived to college and came across my first assignment. And sure enough, I brought this habit with me to seminary.
He passed away on the 11th of this month, which is why I haven’t been blogging for the past two weeks. When I first received word that he had been taken to the hospital because of his severe difficulty to breathe, I was in the middle of starting my research for one of two papers. After that phone call from my brother, I couldn’t focus. In fact, I just sat in my chair for several hours drinking cranberry apple juice mixed with a healthy splash of rum (one of my favorite drinks). I had begun to anticipate the worst and three days later, the worst came.
Grieving my grandfather has been such an emotional ride. On one level, I miss him so much – especially when I need his wise guidance and he’s not on the other end of the phone anymore (like on this past Sunday when I got in my first car accident, I pulled up his contact info on my phone out of instinct). Yet on another level, I know that he’s no longer alone and no longer hurting. And I can celebrate the great things he taught me in his short time in my life (like how to laugh at yourself lest you take life too seriously).
As this semester of seminary draws to a close, I have another research paper to write. I’ve done some work on it and know, in general, what I want to discuss. But I should have been working on both the essay I turned in last night as well as the essay I have yet to finish months ago. I wouldn’t have to speed-read through articles and books. I wouldn’t have to cut my revision time short (literally a little over an hour for the essay last night). And I wouldn’t have that one more bit of stress when the back end of my car was smashed on my way home Sunday.
I know this sounds like I’m beating myself up, but I’m not. I’ve gotten by just fine by putting things off to when they’re convenient to me. But such a habit is not sustainable in the seminary level. I submitted an essay last night, but it was not my best effort. My thoughts were jumbled and somewhat incoherent and not just because my mind has been elsewhere lately, but mostly because I hadn’t spent the necessary time considering the things I wrote about.
My grandfather taught me much more than not putting things off until the last minute, but it’s a lesson I’m relearning again and again in recent days as I continue on through seminary. All of my professors have been more than gracious with whatever I’ve needed as I mourn my grandfather’s passing, but frankly, he taught me to be a more self-reliant adult than to allow handouts. Now maybe that reflects his lack of will to be helped (my grandpa didn’t like being a burden to anyone – even when no one felt that he was). But I think my grandfather wanted us to learn to how to care for ourselves for the days when no help was available.
It’s as they say, old habits die hard. But I think it’s even harder now with his passing. No, there’s nothing I regret doing in my life for my grandpa’s honor; I know full well he was always proud of me and what I’ve accomplished (even if he was initially against me trying in the first place). Yet if there was one thing I wish I could have shown him that he taught me, it’d be how I don’t put things off anymore.
Again, he probably saw more in me than I ever have in myself – especially the elements of his own influence (like golf, bowling, cribbage, and coffee). But getting things done ahead of time and not waiting around until it’s convenient is something simple, yet extends to so many areas. I only wish “Mr. Put-off-ski” would have had the effect he desired.
Yet if it had, I probably wouldn’t think of it now and get the chance to share a bit of his legacy with all of you. So maybe it was better this way after all?
Rest in peace, grandpa…
This is part of a weekend series I’m writing for Near Emmaus. Be sure to check out other posts by other bloggers, especially if you’re interested in biblical studies.