Columnist reflects on selfishness and selflessness

By Blake Dykes

“Blake, you’re so selfish; all you care about is yourself and what Blake wants.”

I was hearing that often from my mother. I didn’t have time to hang out with family, help clean or run errands, I was too busy with working out, softball, and school.  I mean, that was way more important anyway. I had lived with this mindset for the past two years, until one day I came to the realization that I was one of the most self absorbed people I knew.

On Feb. 9, 2013 my parents got a call from my dad’s sister. She told us that my grandpa (my dad’s dad) was having difficulty breathing and was being taken to the hospital, although at the time no one knew how serious his conditions were.

Of course, my parents were going to the hospital, Baptist East, to make sure he was going to be okay. My mom wanted both my brother and me to go, but I said no and that I already had plans to watch the girls’ basketball sectional game against New Albany.

We had no idea of the severity of his conditions, but I had an unsettling feeling that I was making the worst choice of my life. My grandpa never got sick, and for him to even go to the hospital meant that something was seriously wrong.

The game was not enjoyable at all. The entire time I had a suffocating guilt on my chest. I just had the notion that something was terribly wrong. During the game I got a call from my mom saying that my grandpa was doing awful and that I needed to head home to be with my younger brother. Once I was home I started receiving updates about my grandpa’s health, until the last one that said that he was unconscious.

My parents didn’t come home until 4 in the morning, and he died that Sunday, two hours later, at 6. The man who came to every one of my softball games, the man who took his sick elderly neighbor to breakfast on the weekends, the man that didn’t know a stranger,the man who took care of his wife with cancer, was gone.  The community’s selfless  hero had died.

I didn’t get to tell him that I admired him for all of those characteristics because I was too busy with my own life.

His death was very unexpected, considering that he was only 63. Later, though, we found out that he had lung cancer, and had known about it for his last few years on earth. Yet he chose to keep it to himself because he didn’t want the people he loved worrying about him

I guess that’s the difference between selfless and selfish people; selfless people will go to extremes to make others happy, despite their own needs and wants, while selfish people are only concerned with themselves.

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