A few months ago, I was at my in-laws house when I saw a picture on the counter. I remarked to my husband casually, “Don’t you think you’d be a lot more effective at work if you had this picture hanging? I know I would.”
And so, a few weeks later, my in-laws brought me a present. My own copy. It is taped on my refrigerator, and it keeps me going.
This man is “Granddaddy,” my husband’s grandpa. John Madison Smartt.
Are you ready for this? He died at 94, and this picture was taken when he was 93. And yes, it is a race. A 5K. This 92-year-old man ran (jogged? hobbled?) with his walker for three miles.
It wasn’t really until his funeral, last November, that I realized the running was sort of the tip-of-the-iceberg for all Granddaddy had really accomplished in his life.
I know this is kind of a boring post, to read about a 94-year-old senior citizen, but humor me for a second and read this list.
In his life:
- Granddaddy ran in the Senior Olympics for 32 years.
- In 1996 he was chosen to carry the Olympic Torch as it passed through his hometown.
- He served in WW2 as an army officer, and then got his law degree.
- He rang the Salvation Army bells for 35 years.
- He taught 4th grade Sunday School for 30 years.
- In his later years (like when he was 80!) he led hikes through the Appalachian Mountains as a tour guide. During his 80s, he visited 14 national parks.
- He was married to the same woman for 69 years. Almost 70.
I look at this picture on my fridge, a man running along with his walker, ninety-some-years-old and I’m tempted to think: he’s different. A different species of human from me, you know.
But he wasn’t.
He had bad days. He had aches and bruises. He had disappointments, and worries. He got sick, and snubbed by others. He had just as many excuses as we all do to whine and quit, and he did neither. I hope this is as much as an encouragement to you all reading as it is to me, as I face my daily challenges and setbacks.
What kind of person do I want to be? What do I want my life to be defined by?
Granddaddy died last November. My father-in-law said one of the last things Granddaddy said was, “Doug, I think I’ve run good race.”
Yes you did, Granddaddy. Yes, you did. Thanks for encouraging us to keep running ours.
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