In a culture where the individual comes first, where people have grown accustomed to placing themselves first before others, I witnessed a man who seemed to have missed the memo. From a young age, I watched as time and time again my grandfather traded his individual wants and desires for the ability to invest in other people’s lives. I believe that people like my grandfather show the world that there is still good that exists in it.
Self-sacrifice is hard, and I know it. Even while watching my grandfather act so humbly, it was still such a big deal for me to turn around and not demand my own way. I highly respected him, and very much wanted to be as humble as he was, but something deep within me fanned the flames of my desires. Even though my grandfather passed away several years ago, I still can remember countless acts of generosity that he showed not only to me, but also to the people he lived with.
Perhaps the most amazing story I heard about him took place soon after World War II. My grandfather had just returned as a medic in London and was being scouted by the Philadelphia Phillies for his remarkable ability to pitch. Faced with the decision of either pitching for the Phillies or becoming a doctor, my grandfather chose the medical field because he wanted to help people. He chose a career that would not necessarily gain him fame and fortune, but one that was more anonymous, one that allowed him to put others before himself without garnering such attention, just the way he wanted. Many years later my grandfather retired, having helped countless mothers give birth to their babies.
As a young boy, I watched this unbelievable life-long sacrifice that my grandfather exhibited and often wondered if I could ever show that much humility for those around me. After his passing, I knew that carrying on his humble legacy was something I no longer wanted to do, but something that I knew I had to do. After all, it would only be fair to honor someone who had dedicated their life to self-sacrifice; to put them in the spotlight for once, to hold them up for everyone to see.
Of course I haven’t been perfect; after all, I am human. But I believe that if enough people can take my grandfather’s example to heart…well who knows what might happen?