My grandma passed away two years ago today. She was the matriarch of my extended family. I still have her phone number in my phone (under Favorites, because I so enjoyed talking with her about what was going on in my life) and never plan on deleting it. I still carry her belief that there are two ways of doing anything that matters: her way and the wrong way. She came from a different time and wasn’t perfect by any means but I’m a better man writing to you today because I got to be her grandson.
It’d be easy to say that she lost her battle with cancer but I don’t think it’d be accurate: cancer never faced a foe like my grandma. Even towards the end of her battle she continued to inspire us with her strength, courage, and love. Next to my keyboard I have the notes from what I said at her funeral (written on the notepad from the Homewood Suites we stayed at the night before her funeral). Among those at her funeral were family members, colleagues, and employees from a long and successful career, coming from nothing and working hard for every bit of success that she had. That so many came to her funeral said enough, I tried to add what little I could in addition to wonderful words from my uncle and cousin.
I talked about legacy and asked how you define someone’s legacy. So often we focus on what someone did but I don’t feel like that’s the whole story. Legacy, to me, is a road paved by one for others to follow. My grandma’s legacy, following this definition, is vast. She overcame incredible hardship in her life and accomplished incredible things. It wasn’t just what she did but how she did it: not because anything was easy, but because it was worth it.
What does this have to do with travel?
I know that after 4 1/2 years of blogging my readers are ok with me writing about something intensely personal even if it’s not travel-related, but I’ll put it simply: I travel because my grandma showed our family an amazing world through family trips and stories from her adventures abroad. She took us on countless family trips and brought exotic gifts from places we had only read about in books. You see, my grandma’s love wasn’t selfish: what she loved she wanted us to experience and love as well. I’m happy to report to you (and to her) that our entire extended family has traveled the world constantly because of the example she set for us.
At every step of every journey she was with us, encouraging us to work hard and enjoy the fruits of success and see the world. She mostly retired from traveling in 2005 but was always keen to find out where we all traveled and where we were going next. She eagerly listened and loved the pictures from my brother’s and my ambitious trip to Israel in 2012. She loved hearing about my trip to New Zealand and told me all about the time that she went and was constantly blocked by all manner of sheep on the roads of the South Island. It seemed like she had been everywhere to me.
This blog is an extension of her. I love telling stories and I love taking pictures, but even more I love teaching people how to do what I do and, if nothing else, help them realize that the rest of the world is much closer than they might think. In my own small way I’m trying to pave a road to amazing places in this world with hopes that at least some of you can follow. The stories I tell and words that I write are for you because of her.
So I sit here, two years after she died, still full of her spirit. And now it’s my time to challenge you. What is your legacy? What roads are you paving for others to follow? In the skies and the airports of the world, be helpful to other travelers, be gracious to parents of crying babies, and be grateful for flight attendants. At home, be great parents for your kids, be helpful neighbors, and be a loving part of your community to all people, regardless of belief. Let your love be generous and involve others in the amazing things you’re doing. Work hard at life, harder than you ever thought possible. Not because any of this is easy, but because it’s worth it.
I love you grandma.