After suffering from Parkinson for twelve years, my grandfather passed away. On the day he died, my mother and I were the only two in his room. Shaking, I watched him take his last breath. The most difficult thing for me to understand beneath all my tears was that my grandfather was gone, and despite this, the world did not stop, no trumpets played in the background, everything continued on. What then was my grandfather’s purpose?
My confusion over my grandfather led to a much greater confusion, however: what was my purpose? Ironically, the answer I was looking for was right in front of me. I had always participated in community service before my grandfather’s death, but, as is often the case in moments of darkness, the passing of my grandfather turned my spark of interest into a glowing intention. Dark was now light, and I could see what I needed to do.
That summer I committed myself to increasing my involvement in community service. I met with the summer youth camp personnel for …… to initiate a program for youth camp participants. I developed a program designed to help participants in the camp learn the importance of community service. The program was called ……..
Every two weeks, I met with children to discuss and educate them on upcoming service projects. The projects included cards for veterans, a book drive for underprivileged schools, pennies for cancer, pop tops for Ronald McDonald house, ……… (a recycling program which fundraises for charities) and park clean- ups. During the pop top drive one of the children brought in three large bags of the soda tabs. Amazed, I asked how he had gathered so many. His response, I asked all my neighbors to help. In essence, a ten year old boy had done in his neighborhood, what I was doing in his group, helping other people develop an interest in their community. In this way, I reached not just those in need, but those who needed to know that they were needed.
I have personally embraced an optimist attitude in life. I am committed to the idea that life gains meaning through the will to inspire, to innovate and to encourage. I now realize these are the qualities that give life meaning. . My take charge attitude and positive outlook has contributed to my desire to pursue a career in service oriented majors that involve educational leadership, social work, and other community services.
Overall, the death of my grandfather has allowed me to better understand my passion and to embrace the challenge to live everyday with purpose. For me that purpose is summed up in Lao Tzu’s characterization of a leader: The best of leaders when the job is done, when the task is accomplished, the people will say we have done it ourselves.
Student Essay: Published with Permission