Sunday, November 27, 2011

This week's Pep Talk: "Whisper Greatness"

Is anybody out there trying to raise teenagers and, at the same time, trying to care for aging parents? It certainly has its challenges, right? The question becomes, how we will respond?

The journey through these often turbulent waters requires patience, love, discipline, courage, gentleness and, when you feel like tearing your hair out, or lashing out, self control. Full disclosure, I could improve in all areas. Beautiful human beings: those who created us and those we created; we ache when they ache; weep when they weep; rejoice when they rejoice.

Constant thoughts about life as a member of what I like to call the “Sandwich Generation” controlled my cranium following a workout at my sister’s home during the Thanksgiving weekend. A few days earlier she had suggested I read a letter placed beneath glass on the dresser inside the guest bedroom that was my residence. I finally had a moment, grabbed my reading glasses and discovered a wonderful reminder to what, when it comes to concern for chronically-advancing children or parents, ailed an aching heart.

It was a short letter written a few years ago by my late father to my niece - my sister’s daughter - during her senior year of high school. A standout prep athlete, she had just decided to play college basketball for Washburn University. My father, before his passing in 2007, was known for an upbeat personality and positive outlook. He had read a story in the Kansas City Star about Washburn’s women’s basketball team, nicknamed the Lady Blues. He had clipped the article and wrote a short note to a young woman finishing a successful high school career and looking forward to chasing collegiate dreams for the Topeka, Kansas university known for its excellence in women ‘s basketball. Here’s what he shared:

Dearest Had (short for Hadleigh):

Thought you might like this article on the Lady Blues. Your play last night at Fort Osage (the opponent) was something to behold and confirms all I have known was you since you started your drive to be a great basketball player. Your leadership, character and ability was so evident and you are definitely in control of your destiny. I am so proud of you and the beautiful person you have become. All the best is yet to come.

Love, Grandpa.

Suddenly tears joined sweat upon my face. A short and encouraging note reminded me of, not only, a loving father but of another person too. A wonderful friend and his recent wise words. I had spoken with this mentor about feelings of inadequacy in helping, in healthy and productive ways, a developing teenager and aging parent. His words were brief, simple and powerful: “Whisper greatness.”

That’s exactly what a grandfather, in his letter to a grandchild, had offered; that’s exactly what a friend, in his encouragement to me, had suggested; it’s what each of us could do to whomever - child, parent, friend or foe - needs an encouraging word.

Ya never know, this week, our soothing words may just inspire a soul - whisper greatness.

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