Everyone has their own opinion on religion, and it’s our personal experiences that impact what we believe in and how we live our lives. We are who we are through morals and societal expectations. Another thing that everyone experiences throughout their lives is caring for loved ones. The effort we put into constantly trying to make sure that our loved ones are comfortable and happy is pretty amazing. We take ourselves out of our comfort zone during the time that we’re making sure someone is comfortable; then, once they are comfortable, we put ourselves back into our comfort zone. Why do we do that? Why do we purposefully put ourselves in a vulnerable place during those times, but not in other situations? We do this all of the time, but do we truly realize just what is involved in moving into and out of our comfort zones? Whether we realize it or not, sometimes this change is for the good; other times it’s for the bad.
If I were put in a situation in which I visited another country and I didn’t know very much about the language and culture, I would have a choice of either taking uncomfortable situations in a positive or negative way. I could keep putting up that wall repeatedly by not trying to understand and pretty much just go through the motions, or I could confront and try to understand and connect with people in a different way. Not only would I get a better understanding of other people, I would also get a better understanding of what I’m capable of.
When I was younger, I would go to mass every Sunday and Latin mass every Thursday. Religion has always played a big part in my family, and it’s the core of everything that we did. We’re not one of those families that pretty much shoves religion down people’s throats. We’re accepting of everyone and encourage healthy moral decisions. Me, personally, I’m not practicing my faith. That, of course, sparks a brouhaha with not only my family, but with people at church. But, just like any other person my age, I’m trying to figure things out for myself.
I went through a pretty bad time in my life and made poor decisions, causing me to rebel against the norms of my family. Ever since then, I haven’t gone back to practicing my faith and I’m constantly encouraged to get things “back on track” like they used to be. By putting myself outside of my comfort zone, I get a better understanding on life and a better understanding of myself.
During the time that I did go to mass, not only did my parents really impact my life, but also my grandfather. He was always involved in the parish and in his free time, he created rosaries for people all over the world. Little did I know that my grandfather would have such of an impact on my life. He set an example that allowed me to view life in a different perspective.
Now, you’re probably wondering how some old guy that went to church every day and made rosaries in his free time could be such of an impact on my life. We’ve always considered older members of our family as the most wise and experienced. That may not be the first thing that comes to mind if I told you that my grandfather only had a 7th grade education and worked in a car factory most of his life. You’d think someone with that kind of education wouldn’t get very far, and yet, he did a lot to help people and improved their lives.
My grandfather never complained about anything. I’ve always looked up to him when I’m in a situation that I don’t like or when my mother makes food that doesn’t taste very pleasant, and it was through him that I learned how to be more humble and respectful. Taking another look at things in a more positive way definitely helps you in the long run. How many times have you thought about how much you appreciate what you have and how fortunate enough you are in life? Something so simple can have such a big impact on the way you view things. Taking a step back, being open-minded, and analyzing a situation will do you wonders.
The health of my grandfather slowly declined throughout the years and I witnessed it all. From getting ill, to falling and breaking bones, I was there. It got to the point where my family wasn’t able to take care of him and his needs, so he moved into a nursing home. Visiting him in such a poor environment and then seeing him happy in those conditions really brought on another perspective of viewing things in life. He saw people that were slowly dying and suffering everyday, and yet, he brought happiness and joy to their lives that were full of sadness, even when he himself was suffering too.
It was 2 o’clock in the morning, Thanksgiving day, and the phone rang. The nurses were thinking that my grandfather didn’t have very much time left to live. Out of any day or time, I was up when they called. I didn’t know what was bothering me so much to the point where I couldn’t fall asleep, but once they called, I realized that my grandfather was the reason behind it all. My father, grandmother and I rushed over to the nursing home not knowing what to expect. When we walked into his room, he was struggling to breathe, eyes closed, scared of what was going on and trying his best to stay still. The only thing I was trying to imagine was how I would feel knowing that I was going to die. The uncomfortable part of this all was that my father and grandmother were saying prayers. I wanted to join, but if I did, then I wouldn’t have really meant any of it. I don’t understand the prayers and it would be disrespectful because I don’t practice my faith.
My father told him that he didn’t have to fight anymore, and I saw my grandfather relax. His violent breathing calmed down more and more the more that they prayed. After what seemed like forever of praying and trying hold back so much emotion, my father told him that he loved him, then my grandmother, then me. Immediately after, he breathed his last.
Witnessing all of that really changed my life. Seeing how relaxed my grandfather got when my father said all of those prayers was amazing. Out of all the children in my family, I was up at 2am. I could’ve been asleep and missed out on it all, or decided to stay home, and yet, I put myself out of my comfort zone to help out in the situation, and most of all, I wouldn’t have been changed if I stayed home or slept. It's also pretty amazing how I knew that something was going to happen that night because I couldn't sleep at all because something was really bothering me. It also made me more interested in religion and how much that affects people’s lives everyday. Being in that uncomfortable place of not knowing whether or not to say any prayers with my father and grandmother made me take a step back on the situation. On one hand, my grandfather would’ve loved to see me pray, but since it was something that I wasn’t true with, I know that he’d still be as proud to see me reflect on how much he’s changed my life and the lives of others.
My grandfather’s words and actions still play a role in my life to this day and I’m constantly reminded of him when I’m in uncomfortable situations. Whether it be at home, school, or in public, bringing happiness and encouragement to peoples lives is something that I always try to accomplish. Being able to see different views on life and understanding them is how I can connect with others. If it wasn’t for me witnessing me grandfather’s death, then I wouldn’t have much of an understanding of life and the different ways that people view themselves and others.