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Childhood Memories

It's a dangerous night to be walking outside. Not for me, but for the tiny little frogs that dot the gravel road. I swish my overpowered Surefire flashlight across the dark gravel trying to avoid stepping on them. When I get close they freeze in their tracks, making them harder to see. This would be a good reflex if I was trying to eat them, but it's working against them tonight.

I'm walking down to the beach for old times' sake. It's 2am and I'm in Milton, Vermont. Calling it a beach is generous. Shale rocks densely scattered over green outcroppings of weeds lead up to murky water. There are a few docks and a few boats pulled up out of the water. They're not locked to anything - they're just sitting there.

I crouch, pick up one of the little green frogs, and watch him slowly climb around my wrist as I rotate it. I probably haven't touched a frog in ten years. Playing with frogs used to be my favorite thing to do when I was in Vermont. I liked to catch them in a bucket and then empty it into the nearby creek and watch them swim away. Sometimes we'd throw them in the air so that they'd land in the lake. That seems a bit inhumane now, but we didn't know better back then. We were kids. I lower my arm to the ground and nudge the frog off of my wrist.

Always Show Kindness for Kindness

On in the works of creating me

This is one of the many lessons that my grandfather taught me. He is an amazing, inspiring man. However, no words will suffice when it comes to attributing him the credit he deserves.

This concept of showing kindness for kindness was instilled into habits of mine since childhood. My parents made me write thank you notes for just about everything and my dad always taught me to be appreciative for the good given to me by someone, and to pay it forward to someone else. But my true understanding of kindness didn't come until this weekend.

As I type this I'm sitting at the bottom of my grandfathers hospital bed. Every few moments I'll look up and see his slumbering little face. His wife (my grandmother who has surpassed her title of step) and my mother sit and hold his hands as he sleeps. The amount of love and compassion I've experienced in the past few days is like nothing I've ever seen before.

The other night we were rummaging through photos in his office and came across a piece of paper that he had written on. It said, "To Madelin, Love Grandaddy. Live simply, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly, and leave the rest to God." This was preceded by a diagram he had come up with and drew several times for us that depicted the human life as a timeline. This was in effort to teach us the importance of putting aside money for retirement. Madelin is my older sister. She and I display characteristics that often contradict, but we both know that at the end of the day nothing will compare to the love tied into our blood that we just can't avoid.

The lesson on that piece of paper is something probably often heard, but seldom listened to. When I look back at the memories and life I spent with my grandfather, I realize that he always was true to those core values. He loved me generously and always spoke kindly. He cared deeply, and his faith in God always provided comfort and guidance to a simple yet rich life.

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