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It's A Gray Area: Tribute to a life well lived

August 21, 2010|By James P. Gray

Recently, I received a telephone call from the daughter of Andy Blodget, a good friend of mine from San Luis Obispo. She told me that her father had died after having a heart attack the night before. This was a genuine shock, because Andy was only 52 years old and apparently in good health. Neither he nor his family had a prior history of heart disease.

In today's world, to die at 52 years of age of "natural causes" is simply too short a life, and I truly grieve for Andy and his family. But as I was driving up to his funeral last weekend, I was thinking that if I could design a good, useful and almost-perfect life, Andy's would be the one. First of all, and most importantly, he was devout as a husband and a father. In fact, in my view, the biggest insight into people's character is to look at the family lives they have led and the children they have raised. And in that regard, Andy was truly exemplary.

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He was also a self-made man who was successful in his profession, to the extent that he was able to retire from the flower business in his early 40s. Thereafter he was a successful founder of a small bank and a winery, and also was involved in several notable philanthropic activities. And throughout all of his dealings, he acted with such integrity that I told many other people, as well as Andy himself, that without hesitation I would trust him with the safety and well being of my own family, as well as whatever treasure I had accumulated.

But the lasting message that this tragedy left me with is the reason I am interrupting my discussion about Iceland and devoting today's column to this subject, and that is to remember to enjoy and make use of your life while you have it. Our time on this planet is short and life can be fickle because, as I used to tell my jurors, tomorrow we could be hit by a train.

So at all times, keep in mind what is important and what is not. "My yacht is bigger than your yacht," and "I am more glamorous or beautiful than you" are false gods. And it is also true that our possessions can eventually own us if we are not careful. Yes, Andy made a lot of money, but family and integrity were always first and, as examples, his dependable Ford pickup truck and Timex watch suited him just fine.

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