You Must Believe in What You Do: The Long and Winding Road to the Deepest Success
A Legacy of Love
I was just looking at the "cheap" little alarm clock that was one of the very few, yet highly treasured little mementos from my dad's things. It was something my mom obviously considered trivial enough to give, and because it belonged to my father, it's very precious to me. It is actually something she gave to my son, who loved his Grandpa Griffin very much. She said that it was for my son to "Remember the time that he'd spent with his Grandpa Griffin."
That time was cut short by those without eyes to see or hearts to feel what their actions would manifest. I forgive them. There's nothing else to do. Yet I miss my dad's physical presence, his laughter, and his sweetness that shone like a beacon to me, under all the things some saw as his mental challenges.
Mental challenges. Diagnosed or not, we all have them. I have to wonder if those trying to control my dad's life in his final weeks, didn't have a lot more mental issues than he ever did. But that is their destiny to deal with. My dad's spirit is free from any control they sought to wield. And my spirit is free too, through forgiveness and a profound connection with my dad's spirit.
My dad died under very strange circumstances. It's not necessary to take you through the drama and pain of that. I relive it in my heart daily.
What IS important is what I have learned and continue learning from his life, his love, and his spirit that seems to have a lot yet to teach me.
We Are Forever
No One Can Steal Your Talent
I wrote another article recently, and I still stand by it, as a tongue-in-cheek way to laugh at the bumpy road to success. That article utilizes the word "Failure" in its title. I was feeling at the time, that in order to break through my fears about putting things out there and having them ignored or unfairly (or fairly) criticized, I had to embrace "failure" as part of my journey on "the long and winding road to success."
A huge influence in how I see my own accomplishments is how I see my dad's life's accomplishments.
Is a life still worthy of celebration when you die alone after the ones you have trusted most have tricked you out of your life's work? What if you didn't make a good living with your life's work? What if you died with your work being stolen from you? Is it still worth it to have done what you most deeply believed in?
My dad's portrait of another life cut short...
Dad's tribute to those who had things stolen from them...
A "very successful" life that was cut short...
The song and story Dad inspired in me...
An Evolutionary Journey...Stop and Smell the Little Successes Along the Way!
This stuff we call life is just a school book, if you will. And yet I adore books, as many do, holding them dear. My dad could tell stories with his art. Isn't this lifetime of yours mostly about telling your story?
How do you tell your story? What is your favorite, most satisfying way to share your heart? What is your most fulfilling passion? Therein lies your deepest success. I'm just learning this myself. Oh I've heard it all before. So have you. But each one of us has to hear it with our own heart, maybe a movie you see, maybe a song you hear, maybe a poem you read sets your heart soaring.
The other night I was helping my 14-year-old son with homework. You know him from the beginning of this story, as he is the proud owner of that precious clock. I heard his laughter, and had to laugh myself. That is a rare thing during homework. You know what he said to me? I think for the first time ever, "Mom, this doesn't seem like homework!"
SUCCESS beamed from each ventricle of my heart!
He was having FUN doing homework. I was never more joyful in my life! My son was making flashcards and a funny story out of his vocabulary word assignment for English class. An otherwise dull task was turned into a hysterical night of parent-child bonding, because I was thinking about my dad's love for cartooning, and how my son had inherited that love, and this combination brought out the humor in both my son and I. And Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo! The magic happened.
Love cannot be stolen from you...
I get it, Dad...
8:29 am. That's very fitting Dad. The message hit home for me as I was looking at the red digital numbers on your priceless cheap clock that silently glowed "8:29." August 29, 2011 we had a special Memorial Service for you in your hometown, inside your childhood church. Your dearest boyhood friends came to pay their respects, Dad. Their love for you was evident in their misted eyes as I spoke of my love for you.
That very morning, I had awoken to realize that we couldn't use the music CD I had made for your service, but maybe I could use my iPod! I searched my iPod and found the playlist with the Elvis songs.You guided me through a panic of trying to figure out the church's sound system in the last minutes before your service was to begin.
I couldn't send you off without your favorite Elvis Gospel music, Dad. I silently asked you for help, and you helped me. You were always such an expert with audio equipment. Your collection of records and top-notch stereo systems could attest to that. I knew I was in good hands, but it was still a scary ride for me, Dad, wondering if there would be any music for your service!
Was it an accident that within the church sound room, cramped and crowded with boxes of silk flowers to be used for other events, there was, leaning against the wall, a tall aluminum foil covered magic wand with a big plastic star on top?
We got your Elvis music going through the little church's archaic sound system. My iPod playlist entitled "23 songs" had the needed Elvis songs and my song "Standing By Your Side" within it. "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, Dad!"
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.
"I'll get by as long as I have you."
And no one can take what you gave to me. You told me in one of your most precious letters, that you would will me your love. That's everything, Dad. That is all that truly matters.
Look how I got copies of your art from the website Mom set up? I can still share them, even if I am never able to see many of your originals again. And you did give your portrait to me of "Faith in You," the one you did of my album cover. Thank you, Dad. I can still share your work with people here, Dad. It isn't wasted. It isn't stolen. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, Dad. The magic wand of love can overcome ALL obstacles.
Your work, like my work, like anyone who deeply believes in their work, will live on forever - will bring our children joy, will impact someone in ways that we will never even know. You're a SUCCESS, Dad. And I am not about to let anyone forget that.
You did what you most deeply believed in. That can't be wrong. And I learn from your example every day. I will teach it to my children, and anyone else who will listen.
My favorite work of heart...
Dad, you win. Your spirit never dies. It lives in me. You are victorious. Your love and laughter lives in your grandchildren. Your love for cartooning and bringing laughter from people's hearts lives in your grandson. Your love of music lives in your granddaughter. Your love of art lives in several of your grandchildren and your children.
Your success continues to go on. You are successful because love is unending. You've planted a seed that just keeps growing and multiplying. In that way, you have changed the world. You've changed my world - for the better.
And you want to know the best thing about it, Dad? You teach others to do this.
Be true to yourself, my dear friends. Be true to your inner-most joy.
Whatever it may be - growing a vegetable or flower garden - painting your passion, by throwing colors at the wall - baking the best cake in the world, teaching your grandchildren how to start a coin collection, or just the beautiful masterpiece that is your smile, share it with someone.
I know this to be true, even though I am just falling down and getting up over and over on this long and winding road with you. It may not be made of yellow bricks for all of us. You decide what your road is to be paved with. You decide when you need to turn a different corner in order to stay true to yourself. If you're not laughing much, that's a good sign that you need to change direction.
Just remember to follow your art...and success will be your legacy. Your children and grandchildren will thank you.