Perfectly, Imperfect Love…

wartenbees /TiffanyAOlson.com

My Other Parents…

 

At the end of your life, how do you want to be remembered? I think we all hope that our presence in this world has made a difference. We want to know the world is a better place because we were here. Cue… It’s A Wonderful Life.

This past weekend we celebrated the life of a man who leaves behind him a legacy of love. Dennis knew no strangers. Every person he encountered he viewed as an opportunity at friendship. I refer to him as Papa Denny because that is what my kids call him. He made everyone in his life feel like they were family.

It is fitting that Papa Denny passed right at the beginning of the season where much of the world focuses in and reflects on the greatest act of love ever bestowed upon humanity. The gift of Baby Jesus. It is a season where we focus on kindness, compassion, generosity, gratefulness, hope and love.

Dennis and Jean. My other parents. You love me and my kids as your own. Who could possibly ask for more than that?

What greater time of year to celebrate the life of a man who exemplified all of these things? Like the rest of us he was far from perfect but to me, he loved people more perfectly than I have ever seen anyone else do it. Papa Denny never did anything halfway. This sometimes meant he was a lot to take in, but in the end, when you stop to look at his life as a whole you see a trail of people whose lives changed dramatically for the better because of him.

There is a quote by Hunter S. Thompson…

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!

This fits Papa Denny perfectly. He literally used up every ounce of his physical body, living. His life was not an easy one, his childhood, to put it mildly, was rough which meant at times getting in between his parents during a late night brawl and taking a few blows in the process. His only brother was killed in a car accident in his 20’s and there were the financial ups and downs as well as disappointments, heartaches, injuries and major surgeries. (I’m thinking 30 surgeries is a fair estimate.) But Papa Denny never focused on the bad. Even in great physical pain he would smile and use whatever strength he had to lend a hand to someone else. I can think of several homeless couples and families who have Dennis to thank for food, shelter and reconnection with loved ones.

Honestly, I’m having a hard time trying to figure out what this world is going to look like without Denny in it.  I do know however that if he was here he would be looking for ways to help others out. As I reflect on all of this I realize that I need to live better, I need to love better, right now during the Holidays and all the days of my life. We lost a mighty lover of people last week, not only do I need to help fill in the gap but use his legacy as a launching pad for greater acts of kindness because what greater legacy to leave behind than a legacy of love?

papa denny / TiffanyAOlson.com

Three of the 4 men in this photo had a reunion in heaven last week. Merry Christmas. Grandpa Wartenbee, Grandpa Gatlin and Papa Denny!!

 

Have A Beautiful Day My Friends!

Tiffany

 

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