My Grandpa Alan was the best human I’ve ever known. He passed away this week, and I will miss him greatly. I know he will always be with me, guiding me, encouraging me, and rooting for me.
He made a big impact on so many people. I’ve gotten hundreds of emails and texts…words I’ve heard in the past couple days include: mentor, friend, leader, mensch, smart, down to earth, warm, giving, intelligent, compassionate, authentic, kind, witty, brilliant, strategic, humble, inclusive, trust, honor, genuine, advisor, goodness, wise, generous, respect, integrity, caring, and visionary.
Probably the word I’ve heard most during the past couple of days was “mentor”… seems like Grandpa was everyone’s mentor, this coming from all ages, races, class backgrounds, nationalities, genders, sexual preferences, spoken languages, political affiliations, etc., you name it…both sides of every issue, of every aisle…which simply validates what I have known all along, that he was the kindest man on the planet.
And sentences I’ve received in the last couple of days include:
“He always made you feel like you were the only person in the room, always had time for you no matter how busy he was, a wonderful human being, scholar, business man, lawyer, and friend.”
“He always called me back, treated me with dignity and respect.”
“He never saw color or status, and was always so grounded and empathetic.”
“He was always thinking about others and sending magazine articles to them that he thought they would find interesting.”
“He was the smartest guy in the room, and knew so much about many different things, but he never made you feel like he was smarter than you.”
“He had friends on both sides of the aisle and never had a bad thing to say about anyone.”
“He always saw the good in others and had a kind thing to say.”
“He took a chance on me, guided me, gave me advice when I asked for it, and was always rooting for me to succeed.”
All of these statements are true, and exemplify the amazing man that my Grandpa was, and the way I will always remember him. I will also always remember how optimistic he was, looking on the bright side of everything, and how he loved to listen to and learn from others, and to teach others. He was such a hard worker, and always working to make life better for others too, because he genuinely cared.
I’m so grateful to have had him in my life. He always had some sage advice or wise wisdom to impart. He could be fun, with a dry sense of humor, and we would laugh a lot when we traveled or saw shows or went to museums together. He would sing the old songs, which is why I like music from the classics, and he loved to share his favorite TV shows or quotes with me. He always wanted to me to read a book so I could learn about a lot of different things, and put down my phone to look up and see what was going on around me in the world. [I did okay putting down the phone, but I probably could have read more.] And he was the one that practiced everyday with me for the TED Talk, who went with me and sat in the front row, and who supported my pursuit of mental health education advocacy, and helped me set up this foundation, our Wuf Shanti Children’s Wellness Foundation. He would remind me to breathe, to meditate, and never ever quit, even when the going got tough. And he always supported me, believed in me, listened to me, and loved me.
His legacy of advocacy, service, and education is a great one. I hope to make as big of a positive impact on the world one day as he did, and to always make him proud.
Thank you, Grandpa, for instilling in me the values that you have always held true, and for showing me the kind of person I want to be. I love you. RIP.