If my twenties have taught me anything, it is that life is never easy. The worst part of getting older is losing the ones we love around us. It seems like as we become adults and go onto our own paths, our mentors, parents, grandparents, and even friends become just a memory. How do we go on? How do we cope? We keep going.
At the age of 22, I lost my grandfather, Norman Whitman, who was a hardworking, dedicated father and grandfather. He was battling a rare form of stomach cancer and later developed dementia. My grandfather was one of the smartest men I knew, he enjoyed school from a young age all the way up until he decided to go back to school when I was just a baby. He graduated from the University of Washington and went back to school many years later at Wenatchee Valley College. He worked on one of the first computer systems at Alcoa in Malaga, Washington, and then later was dealing with computers at Central Washington Hospital. He had a constant thirst for knowledge and consumed his free time with newspapers, books, puzzles, and after-school scrabble games with me.
Just over a year and a half later, I lost my Father, Ernie Richardson, to complications with type 2 diabetes, severe COPD, and congestive heart failure at just 49 years old. He was very driven by work and made a name for himself. My father started working mobile home sales and moved up the corporate ladder to a district regional manager for several areas around the U.S. When the housing market tanked, he took it upon himself to dive into the home mortgage business while simultaneously working at our local corner store in Wenatchee, Washington. When he discovered that the home mortgage business was not where he wanted to be, he then went back to his marketing roots and spent his remaining years working for a memory care facility as their marketing director. My father enjoyed stock car racing, spending time with our family friends, and watching Seahawks games.
After losing two important men in my direct family, it seemed to be happening more and more. More members of another part of our family, what we called our “racing family”, passed away. We lost three others: Tommy Wentz, Scott Jones, and Danny Clark. All three unexpectedly passed away.
Now at age 27, one of the things I learned is that you shouldn’t wait around. Don’t wait to visit the ones that have made an impact in your life. Don’t put off connecting with them in some way. We are all going through the strangest times of our lives, but the one thing we can do is try to find ways on how to be there for one another. Technology is a blessing in disguise when it comes to the way we can communicate, so take advantage of it. We all have someone like an Ernie or a Norman in our lives that have special qualities and stick out to us. Hold onto the happy times with your loved ones and eventually let go of the hurt and pain. As life goes on and we lose the ones we love, the memories remain.
“It is impossible for you to go on as you were before, so you must go on as you never have.”