I have spent much of my life striving for things – never satisfied, always seeking to improve, to accomplish, to try, to experience. Striving. I had an experience over Spring Break that may explain where some of this comes from. I attended the national AGC conference in Hawaii and was able to take my parents with me. They have never been to Hawaii, nor have my wife and kids. It was the trip of a lifetime.
It was a particularly special trip for my mom and dad. My dad was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer in March 2011. Shortly after the diagnosis, it was easy to see the glass as half-empty. He needed to strive for the future, for better health and for good things to come. I was cheering him on, but he needed to do the work.
When we booked this trip last December, he was feeling good; as the trip approached, he was feeling great. His medications are working, his energy is good and his outlook is positive. We are all grateful for all of this and not willing to waste a minute. While we were in Hawaii, we set out to do two hikes: Manoa Falls and Diamond Head. My uncle Bob encouraged my dad to do the Manoa Falls hike with the challenge that my grandmother (their mom) had done it when she was 90 years old. My grandma is still going strong at 95, but my dad still did not want to be shown up.
I will tell you that it was a challenging hike through the tropical rainforest in the mud with poor footing; every step needed to be “on purpose.” Like my grandma before us, my dad and I made it, striving to meet our goal and finish.
The next day we hiked Diamond Head. My dad did not set any speed records, but he kept one foot in front of the other until he made it to the top. The following day he said to me, “A year ago I had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, and yesterday I hiked Diamond Head.” He was proud of the accomplishment, grateful for his health and the opportunity to do it and glad to be able to share it with my mom and my family. It will always be a reminder to me to keep striving for things that matter in my personal life, at home, at work and in the community. Because, when all is said and done, that’s what matters most.