This past week, I had to say goodbye to someone I love very dearly, my Uncle Jimmy. My family will navigate his passing with waves of ongoing sorrow, but also with joy. There’s always that paradox. Because as we will be figuring out how to be a family without having him here physically, and missing him beyond measure, each of us has incredible memories of love, laughter, support, and guidance. In fact, I was so inspired by the many stories and comments of all who honored him, I have been waking in the morning with a renewed zest for life. I want to live my life the same way Uncle Jimmy did.
I’ll tell you a little bit about him and I’ll save the kicker for the end. As someone who writes a blog about calming the chaos within and around us, it is very fitting that my godfather left me with an incredible nugget to ponder and share.
Uncle Jimmy has always been a stanchion for those he loves. Throughout my entire life, he and my Aunt Joanne have always been there for me. For the not-so-good-times, like hospital stays and disappointments, Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Joanne, were there. The great times consisted of things like white water rafting trips, even at 79 years old, and the plain-old-good times were all the parties and get togethers. He was always the first to start a conversation with any and everyone, and one of the last ones to leave. I loved this because I felt assured I would have some time at the end of the night with my godfather.
Well, with all that time being a family man could there possibly be any time left for hobbies? Yep. Uncle J was a badass ping pong player and won the gold medal at the senior olympics a few years back. Volleyball and softball were staples too. I wish I had some of his volleyball skill, and I’m sure the folks I play with wish the same. Maybe I’ll be inspired to work on that too. Sheesh, now they might hold me accountable.
Another hat uncle Jimmy wore was that of a firefighter. He was a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department for 41 years, giving of himself, serving, and running into burning buildings when other people were running out.
While chatting with a firefighter who served with him and spoke at his service, this man mentioned how he really wanted to capture the essence of who Jimmy was, and he hoped that he got his point across. He wanted to make sure everyone knew what a calming presence Uncle Jimmy was. You see, Uncle J knew how to bring calm to the chaos.
The firefighter said, “We would be shouting, tensions would be running high and Jim would say, ‘What are you yelling about? The fire always goes out.’”
The fire always goes out.
That’s it. There’s the nugget that will become a mainstay mantra for me.
As I look back on my life and some of the situations and things that have brought me great anxiety and turmoil, I see that they always worked out, regardless of the fact that it may have resulted differently than I had wanted or planned.
What did my worry and anxiety bring to the situation? Absolutely nothing. Whether we get ourselves crazy or not, in the end, it’s always okay. The fire always goes out.
Now mind you, in the literal sense and as firefighters, they didn’t sit there and watch the fire until it went out. They worked hard to put it out, and took action. But to not let the stress of the situation deter one from the task at hand, fueling it to make matters worse, is key.
Similarly, and in the broader sense, when we are in a tough situation, as long as we breathe deep, do our best and take the next right action, there will eventually be peace. Worry only kindles the confusion further. The fire in my mind, the chaos at hand, will eventually and always extinguish.
I want my life to be a reflection of Uncle Jimmy’s. A life full of love and support for others, serving and giving, doing what fills me up and brings me joy, and using my gifts and talents while also making time for fun. And the goal is to live this way in a peaceful manner, spreading calm, as he did. This is the true definition of success.
While it will definitely take time getting used to this new normal, I am so blessed and grateful to have had him in my life. Uncle Jimmy put many physical fires out, and he left me with a way to put out the fires in my mind, but the light he gave will not go out any time soon.