Mark’s grandfather died.

He fought in Korea. Bravely. And actually, he was fortunate enough to see Marilyn Monroe perform live while he was there and he proudly kept a photo of her from that performance in his office. “She seemed like a really nice person.” he’d say thoughtfully with a shrug.

After graduating from Ohio State and being active in his fraternity there he settled down with his fellow Buckeye wife Harriet. There had three kids, there was a school board to lead, lots of volunteering, lots of leadership positions actually. He was a CPA like my uncle… And like a genuinely good, honest lawyer a truly decent CPA becomes a community asset with age and experience.

…The first time I met him was at a family Thanksgiving they hosted at their house back in 2010. Mark’s father, an enthusiastic wine collector, had brought something highly rated for Thanksgiving Dinner for us all to imbibe and everyone sat their drinking it pleasantly with a turkey Oprah had recommended that year (and a few other dishes). It was a frozen turkey that you were supposed to wait to eat as it eventually unthaws over time. Supposedly. But it was…not great. Mark’s (half) little sister by his father’s second wife was crawling under the table. They made her box mac and cheese because she refused to eat the turkey. Mark’s step-mother who was still trying to get along with me then offered me a serving of the mac and cheese as well. I declined.

Mark’s grandfather, who sat at the head of the table looked over at me and said in perfect cadence, “So, what do you think of this family?” I was caught off-guard and didn’t know where to begin… I think I said, “Oh they’re wonderful.” or something like that. I meant it then, as lacking in eloquence as it perhaps was, despite the problems that happened eventually.

But you know…I always admired Mark’s Grandparents. I saw their flaws but I also saw the way they sacrificed for their kids and grandkids. I saw how much they contributed to their communities. I saw how hard they worked their whole lives. I noted the way they took life quite seriously in general.

Mark’s grandmother was prettier than Marilyn Monroe. Well, they were equals at least. She was self-admittedly not a photogenic woman but she was very beautiful… Every week she’d have her hair done at the salon and much like her house it always looked impeccable.

These deceased were all people our world needed. To function. To survive… And now they’re gone, having exhausted their gift of life and used it as wisely as they could. I look around at us, the next generations, and worry…to be honest. And, as much as we love today to hate anyone white or of certain accomplishments and background because there were criminals among those groups who ruined things (and that’s putting it mildly)…there were others who did a lot of good. And honestly…I don’t see a lot of people in any group like that nowadays. People who truly lead well. People who bite down hard on life and make it work for us. Or maybe most of those people wherever they are becoming more and more exhausted, regardless of age, as time rolls on.

Best case scenario there are still people not totally beaten down by evil… People not totally exhausted… Or quickly becoming elderly… Left… Who still care enough at higher levels of leadership to keep things from imploding in on themselves in protest against the idiotic, irrationally self-obsessed leadership of those who ruin what good people build. Built.

I’m not hopeful. I’m preparing for the worst for the rest of my life. Most Millennials and Gen Z are, I’d argue. But I’m one of the lucky ones in my generation who realizes and saw what the good and the hard-working looked like in leadership. In their communities. They’ve been slowly leaving us one by one for decades (still are). And they were the reason we were able to care and thought there was hope until we recognized later that there were imposters who stole their glory for no end other than egotistical, ill, moronic destruction.

Those criminals were poisonous. Don’t let them overshadow the beauty of those who cared, tried and did.

Rest In Peace…