07 January, 2010

To Leave A Legacy

There are few men I can say have made a difference in my life and only one I owe my life to, Dean LeRoy Sollis; the greatest man I have ever known.

As the second to last of eight children of a widow in the depression, my grandfather learned value and prudence. He also learned to like lima beans while detesting rice and chicken, food in abundance at the time. I remember sitting next to the fireplace listening to the stories of he and his brothers working as children to make ends meet. My grandfather lived frugally all his life and eventually provided for the mother who raised him, the family he created, and the grandchildren he saw his future in.

Family was the greatest treasure to my grandfather and protecting his family was a life-long pursuit. When the Second World War reached its frigid fingers across the Atlantic into America's way of life, my grandfather joined the Army. He served our country with each of his brothers and learned courage, sacrifice and diligence. I listened to stories of him as an Army medic and still shudder to think of leaving my family and home let alone facing the possibility of never coming home at all. What my grandfather shared with me I will never forget. He emphasized faith and hope in the greatest of adversities. With faith and hope, anything is achievable.

I didn't always know these stories, but I always knew of my value in the eyes of my grandfather. He made me feel like I could conquer the world! He also told me many times how I deserve the world. During the summer a friend brought me home. When he left my grandfather told me, after making me laugh with his inquiry as to this boy's intentions, to make sure I was always treated as the lady I am. Small moments like this with my grandfather throughout my life taught me to appreciate my own intellect, talent, beauty and potential. He taught me never to settle. I hope that every girl has someone like my grandfather in her life, to show her how to reach her full potential, to remind her of her infinite and eternal worth.

My grandfather died September 13, 2009 after a long struggle with Parkinson's Disease. I watched the greatest man in my life wither away to its debilitating effects. Yet, he will live on as the pillar of strength I have built my life against. Grandpa, I love and greatly miss you.