Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fred Wise, my Grandpa.

I started this post a few months back and never got around to finishing it. It's a moment that I will cherish forever and decided that it is seriously time to write it down somewhere before I lose my memory or something. So here it goes..

On May 5th of last year (2011), my dear grandpa, Fred Wise, passed away. He was one of a kind and an absolutely amazing man and example. He cared so much about all of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Honestly, I could go on forever about how wonderful he was. Forever. Because he really was that wonderful. Before Grandpa passed away, I had the opportunity to stay the night with him and my grandma a couple times a week. Usually Grandpa would help Grandma get ready for bed, but he was becoming too ill to take care of her like he used to. That's why I would stay there; to get Grandma ready for bed and to make sure Grandpa was comfortable. One morning I woke up, got them their breakfast, and then got ready for school. I was getting ready to leave so I kissed Grandma and said goodbye. Then I went to Grandpa, kissed his cheek and said goodbye. But I honestly felt something different in that goodbye. So as I walked away, I turned back to look at Grandpa and he looked at me then blew me a kiss. In my heart I knew that would be the last time I would see him. And it was. He passed away later that day.
I will never ever forget the last time I saw my Grandpa Fred and that sweet kiss he blew me. And I will never ever ever forget how he never failed to make me feel so incredibly loved.
Grandpa had a love for Abraham Lincoln and his famous speech, The Gettysburg Address. For as long as I can remember, he encouraged all of his grandchildren to memorize that speech and even promised to give us $50 if we could recite it from memory for the family on the Fourth of July. Forever I would start to memorize the speech and either give up or lose interest. After my mission I decided that if I could learn a foreign language, I could easily make my grandpa proud by memorizing a short meaningful speech for him. It was the beginning of February when I made the decision to memorize the speech. Because Grandpa Fred's birthday is February 19, I decided that I would recite the Gettysburg Address for him as his birthday present. I went over it again and again everyday until I finally had it down perfectly. During Grandpa's birthday party, I brought him with me into the office, and I recited the speech for him. He looked at me with proud eyes and had the biggest smile on his face. When I finished, he complimented me and said he would get me my "well-deserved $50," but I replied, "No Grandpa, I don't want the money, that was your birthday present!" He gave me the sweetest hug then held the back of my neck (his signature move) and told me that was his favorite birthday present. I'm so grateful that I was able to share that with him for his birthday, because he was gone before the Fourth of July.
Grandpa Fred will forever be one of my greatest examples in life. In my eyes he did everything right. I love him, and I miss him like crazy. But I have memories such as these and many more that I will keep close to my heart for the rest of my life.

What Would Lincoln Do?

This is a story I read in the book, How to Win Friends & Influence People. I think this is something we should all try to apply in our lives.

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought during the first three days of July 1863. During the night of July 4, Lee began to retreat southward while storm clouds deluged the country with rain. When Lee reached the Potomac with his defeated army, he found a swollen, impassable river in front of him, and a victorious Union Army behind him. Lee was in a trap. He couldn't ecape. Lincoln saw that. Here was a golden, heaven sent opportunity- the opportunity to capture Le's army and end the war immediately. So, with a surge of high hope, Lincoln ordered Meade not to call a council of war but to attack Lee immediately. Lincoln telegraphed his orders and then sent a special messenger to Meade demanding immediate action.
And what did General Meade do? He did the very opposite of what he was told to do. He called a council of war in direct violation of Lincoln's orders. He hesitated. He procrastinated. He telegraphed all manner of excuses. He refused point-black to attack Lee. Finally the waters receded and Lee escaped over the Potomac with his forces.
Lincoln was furious. "What does this mean?" Lincoln cried to his son Robert. "Great God! What does this mean? We had them within our grasp, and had only to stretch forth our hands and they were ours; yet nothing that I could say o do could make the army move. under the circumstances, almost any general could have defeated Lee. If I had gone up there, I could have whipped him myself."
In bitter disappointment, Lincoln sat down and wrote Meade this letter. And remember, at this period of his life Lincoln was extremely conservative and restrained in his phraseology. So this letter coming from Lincoln in 1863 was tantamount to the severest rebuke.
My dear General,
I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee's escape. He was within our easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, he war will be prolonged indefinitely. If you could not safely attack Lee last Monday, how can you possibly do so south of the river, when you can take with you very few-no more hat two-thirds of the force you then had in hand? It would be unreasonable to expect and I do not expect that you can now effect much. your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasurably because of it.

What do you suppose Meade did when he read the letter?
Meade never saw that letter. Lincoln never mailed it. It was found among his papers after his death.
My guess is-and this is only a guess-that after writing that letter, Lincoln looked out of the window and said to himself, "Just a minute. Maybe I ought not to be so hasty. It is easy enough for me to sit here in the quiet of the White House and order Meade to attack; but if i had been up at Gettysburg, and if i had seen as much blood as Meade has seen during the last week, and if my ears had been pierced with the screams and shrieks of the wounded and dying, maybe I wouldn't be so anxious to attack either. If I had Meade's timid temperament, perhaps I would have done just what he had done. Anyhow it is water under the bridge now. if i send this letter, it will relieve my feelings, but it will make Meade try to justify himself. It will make him condemn me. It will arouse hard feelings, impair all his further usefulness as a commander, and perhaps forces him to resign from the army."
So, as I have already said, Lincoln put the letter aside, for he had learned by biter experience that sharp criticism and rebukes almost invariably end in futility.
Theodore Roosevelt said that when he, as President, was confronted with a perplexing problem, he used to lean back and look up at a large painting of Lincoln which hung above his desk in the White House and ask himself, "What would Lincoln do if he were in my shoes? How would he solve this problem?"
The next time we are tempted to admonish somebody, let's pull a five-dollar bill out of our pocket, look at Lincoln's picture on the bill, and ask, "How would Lincoln handle this problem if he had it?"