Doing the time warp
Today I received an email from one of my favorite humans, the owner of my yoga studio, informing me that my annual membership will come due at the end of this month. It does not automatically renew so she was confirming I'd want to stay on. This is not a post about yoga though. Its a post about how she opened her email saying, "hi mister....".
My late grandfather, Ed LeBeau Sr., often addressed my brother and I in this fashion saying in a similar fashion, "hey mister!..." I can hear it in my head like he just said it and yet he has now been dead for almost 2.5 years.
My grandfather's death was marred with conflict for me. For most of my life it was clear we didn't have the same lens* on equality and in his later years, we often held starkly different views and even clashed over race and politics. The only point I cried at his funeral was when I saw my own father crying and reacted to his sadness. The more recent memories and conflict crowded out the things I would miss.
Despite the values and political stances we strongly disagreed on, my grandfather looms large in many of the ways my work and personal life is unfolding. One no-brainer way to describe him is as a people person. His work and personal life overflowed with relationships he had built and it was clear in life and death people cherished what they had with him. It was well-known if you called him in the morning, he would likely be "clicking over" from another phone call he was on and he'd likely have to pick up another call while you were on the phone with him. Its also wasn't out of the question someone was at the breakfast table at the same time too.
When I look back on the relationship web I've built in my life, a conversation I had with him years ago, signals a lesson he taught me. While enrolled in college, I had gone to a popular restaurant outside Kirksville, MO, with my girlfriend at the time for a nice meal. During our dinner, the maitre'd came by our table to chat. After a moment or two it became clear he had family who lived near my parents and I was pretty sure I even knew what house he was referring to. We left it at that and continued on with our dinner.
When I told my grandpa about the dinner weeks later and the maitre'd with the family living in the area he asked me, "what's their last name?" I told him I hadn't asked and didn't know. He then told me, "you should always leave a conversation knowing something important like that about a person." Whether someone's family background are the right facts to take away should be up for debate but it was one of the things that informed me why my he had such strong relationships. Those he built weren't ephemeral. They were genuine and ran deep. That is something I resolutely believe and try to carry on.
When I look at my civic involvement around the city, I know he would be proud. He cared deeply about his community and I like to think part of my interest in it is because of him.
I regret not feeling closer to him at the end but strive to carry part of his legacy through my actions.
"Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past", Lily Tomlin
"We had a ball", Ed LeBeau Sr.
*I've reflected from time-to-time on what values or beliefs I will hold as I move through life that will be out-of-step with younger generations. Only time will tell.