Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Quiet Influence

They say talk is cheap and perhaps 'they' are right because sometimes talking (or writing) has been the only affordable thing for me to do. What 'they' don't say is that words are priceless.

I am in the enviable position of collecting memories for my dad's family's Book of Memories. Not only have I been on the receiving end of listening to my dad's brothers talk about their childhood memories, their parents and grandparents, but I have been collecting tidbits from anyone who cares to share them, to round out our family's story.

There are still many finishing touches to go but presently I am honing in on the chapters of my grandparent's seven sons. The uncle's chapters will signify the 'end' of this prequel to our family's history. Last week I sent out one final request for memories and stories to all of my cousins.

Last night ... I received the best gift that life has to offer.

One of my uncles has five children. Each one of them wrote their own personal stories, memories and told of the many ways their dad has influenced their lives. This gift came hot on the heels of Father's Day and I can only imagine how their dad must have felt when he read what they had to say.

There was such a common thread about the man that they wrote about. Yet each person's slant was just a little different than the other.

His oldest son told of how his dad impacted the way he was a father to his own family of five. He remembered the little things that his dad told him that made a big impact. Another one of his children said (something to the effect of), "I don't know if you will remember this Dad, but ..." and went on to tell a story about how their dad's comments and actions molded them.

The wisdom that this uncle has passed down to his children is so reminiscent of the little morsels of advise that I remember Dad telling me. Small stuff. It is all small stuff. A comment here, there and everywhere sprinkled upon a lifetime equals a great deal of information.

But it is action that speaks louder than words (thus, the 'talk is cheap' credo that I mentioned at the beginning of this barrage of words). What speaks loudest and most consistently from this quiet man I call my uncle is his actions. He is a man of integrity and did not go off spouting what he did not live out loud.

This is the common thread that I have found among my family's memories. Actions speaking louder than words. Learning from example. Emulating that which has been seen. The soft voices within my dad's family only punctuate their actions.

I didn't grow up really knowing my cousins on my dad's side of the family. I knew who they were and we had sporadic contact throughout my childhood but they were strangers to me. Yet as an adult, each and every time I talk with any one of them I feel like I have known them for a lifetime. The invisible thread of family, integrity and the quietness of their manner underneath the surface accentuates everything that ties us together.

If they could see us now ... our grandpa and grandma; my dad and my uncles and their wives; and our 'greats' and all of those who carved the path that we are now following ... I think that they would be pleased.

There may not have been an abundance of words but there was a life lived with integrity that will carry on throughout the generations that follow.

My cousin quoted some words from "How to Have Enduring Influence" (please click on the link to appreciate the wisdom it imparts - copyright laws prevent me from copying and pasting the article here) that say more than I ever could. It talks of the way that we are continually influencing everyone we meet in our lives.

Seeds of hard work, honesty and integrity were planted here. I am grateful to be 'part of this crop'!
Live your life you want to pass down to your children. It is the best inheritance they could ever receive.

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