The grief of a teenager. How does a teen deal with loss? Let them speak. Be a listener. How a teen celebrates a hero is a simple act of love and respect that we can all learn from.
Her grandpa was a man of service. He not only served in the US Navy, but gave 40 years of service as a volunteer fireman. What kind of a person is willing to run into a burning building to rescue a complete stranger? A selfless hero, that’s who. His name is Henry, but his friends and family called him Hank. Truly a privilege to know him, Hank was not only a hero, but also a devoted grandpa to my niece and nephew, Ava and Cole. To serve Not To Be Served...Hank instilled this in them.
Both Ava and Cole have devoted years of service to the organization, Students Helping Honduras. In fact, Ava is actively fund-raising for these kids as I type. This organization supports education by building schools throughout rural Honduras. Truly a labor of love on their part and a beautiful tribute to the legacy of their grandfather who encouraged and supported them in such endeavors.
Ava had the courage to speak at Hank's funeral. She stood at the podium beside her mom. Through her tears she recalled the many memories made with her grandfather. “He taught me how to make ravioli…a Christmas tradition I will carry on and one day teach to my own children.” And then she smiled. “While my friends were spending their spring breaks in the Bahamas, I was visiting my grandpa in NC. It was there I learned how to shoot a gun popping tin cans and balloon targets.”
However, it was her final words that touched my heart the most. “I kept hoping he would find more loose ends that needed tying up.” Ava came home from college to comfort her grandfather in his final days. She wanted more time. When a teen celebrates a hero or anyone else be there to listen. Their unique way of expressing grief is inspiring.
Finally, I want to thank Hank for being a devoted Navy brother to William. While in NC, Hank always took the time to pay his respects by placing a wreath at the roadside tribute.