When Mentors Pass Away

Yesterday I got word that one of my mentors passed away recently. His family was all over the place, but there was one element that they all held dear, and that was the element of love. When I read the obituary, I was stunned to learn that he passed away from the same disease that killed my father. Glioblastoma is not something that many people want to talk about, but it’s real. It was difficult for me when I first learned of Clayton’s passing. He watched me grow up. He had a smile that would light up a room anywhere he went, and he adored his wife. His children were his world. And he would never let you get away with trying to get by. Oh, not on his watch. He was all about pride and showing that you cared about what you were doing.

And then I learned of another friend who passed away on Monday. She, too, was a cancer fighter; only hers was with breast cancer. Sometimes I wish the word cancer didn’t even exist. I’ll be grateful for the day that all cancers have cures from this Earth. No one should need to fight that awful disease. It should not even exist. But like Covid and many other illnesses, it does. And when it strikes, sometimes the victims it strikes are lethal.

One thing I’ve learned from the deaths that I’ve seen this week is the impressions that they left upon the people whose lives they touched. Their contributions to the world were not about money but rather people. I remember Nancy would tell me that it had to do with how you treat each other. She told me of several instances where she had employees who did everything they could to stab others in the back on their way to the top. They got there, and they got plenty of riches along the way. But they also got additional wives or husbands and a lot of alimony payments. They also had ulcers and all kinds of stress-related issues that the others didn’t have to contend with because at least they had a conscience along the way. Nancy said that wasn’t to say that others who did the right things didn’t have ulcers, but as she told me, they could generally put their heads down at night and have a decent night’s sleep.

The nice thing about it is that both of those people remind me every time I remember them of the concessions they had to make. Neither of them complained about anything they had to do for their families. They both loved life and God. In many ways, it’s whatever you believe in in this world that can make you happy. My belief in God is intense, but I would be a liar if I said it didn’t test me regularly. When I look at how good people like these two succumbed to cancer, I wonder why God takes the people he does and leaves others behind. I guess the truth of the matter is that no matter what any of us may think, we all have different issues that we need to address for ourselves.

Here’s what I know about the mentors in my life. Without them, I would have done even more stupid things than I’ve already done. I wouldn’t have the compass to help guide me when times are tight. And I wouldn’t understand what inspires people along the way because mentors like those in my life before and currently have shown me that compassion, determination, understanding, empathy, and a willingness to be open are crucial to living your best life. So if you have mentors in your life that mean a lot to you, make sure they know how much they mean. Don’t take a single day for granted. I’ve said this many times, but life is way too short. Call somebody you haven’t talked to in a while, and if they don’t answer, that’s OK but don’t stop trying.

Recognize the people in your life who have become mentors because they are the ones that help you dream. And because of those dreams, those thoughts become actions if you believe enough and work hard enough to make it happen. Without goals, hard work, and mentors, we wouldn’t build a better world. And despite all of the bickering that we all do with each other, we can make this world better because the more we all contribute and are willing to listen to each other, the more opportunities we have to grow. Have a great day, everyone.

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