LILLIAN CHARLES

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Leaving Others with Joy

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My mother's father, Edward Lunn Young, went down for his final nap around noon on Tuesday, May 9th. I've been thinking about all that my grandfather gave from his heart in his 96 years roaming this earth. He was a decorated war hero, earned countless awards as a leading member of the farming community in the Southeast, served in US Congress, ran for governor in 1978 (had nothing but nice things to say about the guy who beat him), provided jobs across the Pee Dee area through his real estate ventures and dedicated EVERY Sunday morning to his church, in the choir and as a Sunday School teacher, for over 50 years.

He played a handful of amazing roles in so many people's lives. I do believe, however, that his favorite role was his position as the head of his family. He and "his bride," my Grammy, the definition of a life partner, shared 71 years of marriage, four daughters and eight grandchildren. They traveled the world, made each other giggle and jitter-bugged in the kitchen well into their 90's.

I've already had so many flashbacks of insanely joy-filled memories with this man. They say that people will forget what you said, but never forget the way you made them feel. This is perhaps the greatest lesson I received from Grandfather. He showed interest in ALL, he engaged with his beautiful sparkling blue eyes, listened (as best he could) with his full heart, ALWAYS spoke positively - no matter what!, believed that a blend of faith and optimism was the cure for everything (he was right) and he led with love. Whether he was engaging with a child, a doctor, a waitress, a CEO, a pastor or a bell hop, he left everyone he touched feeling lifted and cared for. He treated each of us like we were the most special, intelligent, important and *beautiful* creatures to walk into his home. 

I know that he was so proud that one of his grandkids turned out to be a hard-headed, full of fire, optimistic, fear-fighting entrepreneur. He loved that about me. And I'm proud to say I got those "never give up, never give in" genes from him. I am thankful for all of the love he shared and showed me and my family for all his days.