My late grandfather Harold Patterson ("PawPaw") has always been my hero. He was a minister, a soldier, a banker, a brother, a husband, a father, and a grandfather. Above all, he was the best lover and the best fighter I have ever seen. He was strong in what he believed in and made sure that those who crossed his path knew that he was deeply interested in them.
When PawPaw met someone – anyone – he ended the conversation by saying, "By the way, have I told you lately?" The new acquaintance inevitably replied: "What did he say to me?" Then PawPaw said on one cue: "That I love you." And he was serious. I've seen PawPaw do this – and heard other PawPaws say their words – thousands of times. The immediate result was literally stunning. Who loves so The answer is simple – a real humanitarian.
It wasn't just strangers who received this special treatment – he told his colleagues, customers, neighbors, friends, and family members that he loved them every time he saw them. A man who could love this enormously and externally must be a sissy, right? A big, huge teddy bear? Not correct.
Growing up with thirteen (13) older siblings taught PawPaw how to be tough. In high school he once put wet cement in someone's mouth because he called him a "son of a bitch" – he admired his mother very much. If someone called him a coward, he would take them back and prove otherwise. Later, when his bank was robbed, instead of hiding him and waiting for the police, he personally chased the robber, pulled him out of his car, threw him on the ground, put his boot on his neck, and only then waited for the police.
PawPaw never started a fight, but he never retired from one.
These are the lessons I rely on to bring my family, business, neighborhood, and community through this COVID-19 pandemic. We should all strive to be the greatest lovers and the greatest fighters this world has ever seen.
We have to love our family, our friends, our colleagues, our neighbors and strangers more than ever. People really need it. People will need a lot of help from each other. People need someone to talk to, someone to pray for, someone to comfort them, someone to mourn with them. People need help with food and supplies. Even those who always looked strong and angular can start to collapse physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Nobody needs more help, and love is the answer.
But we also have to be ready to fight. We didn't choose this fight with COVID-19, but the fight with us. But we will not back away. We will respect our opponent, but we will not be afraid. We will not be tempted to return to our comfortable lifestyle prematurely, thereby endangering the health, safety and well-being of our neighbors and relatives. No, we are ready to do the hard things that this struggle will require. We will familiarize ourselves in the long run. We'll have grit. We'll accept the sucking. We'll go on one day at a time. We will maneuver and move so that people who need resources get resources. We will ensure that healthcare workers have everything they need to fulfill their calling. We will support our grocers, restaurants and others along the supply chain who work tirelessly to provide us with the goods and services we need. We will remain diligent and prepared, but we will not fall victim to fear and worry about things that we cannot control. We will pray for our citizens, but we will not be afraid to speak when we have something to say. We will recognize the fact that division is an ally of the enemy and that COVID-19 is not a partisan issue. We will not allow politics or self-interest to go into battle. No, we will fight this and win.
PawPaw is in heaven, so this fight is ours now. COVID-19 calls us all cowards and "sons of bitches", so let's kick our asses. For those who are dedicated to the fight, I will love you forever.