DEAR ABBY: I've never been one to cry, but my grandfather, Jesse "Mim" Toney, died in October 1996, and I miss him. He was a hero. A REAL hero. Not just because he was Gen. George S. Patton's chauffeur and valet during World War II, but because of who he was.
His life taught me something I need to share. It's something we are losing as individuals, as families, and even as a country. It's something that is there, like faith, even when everything else falls apart. You need it. I need it. The whole world needs it. You can't build enough of it. It won't leave you when times get tough. It will carry you. It's what makes real men and women honorable. It's being underappreciated. It's what grew the fastest the weaker he got. It was his character!
Yes, character. Like respect, it is not something you ask for; it's something you earn. Like strength, it's not something granted; it's developed. It may only count to those who have it -- but character counts.
He was not impressed by what someone accomplished, but by what they had overcome. That's character.
He didn't take the easy way. He took the right way. That's character.
He accepted responsibility for his actions, faced the consequences without complaint and lived his life the best he could. That's character.
His road map was the Scriptures; his compass was his heart; his passion was his family; his character was his art.
That's what he taught me, and I think the message is worth repeating. -- JEFF POWELL, DUBLIN, OHIO
DEAR JEFF: Please accept my sympathy on the painful loss of your beloved grandfather. Obviously, your letter was written from the heart. It would have made a beautiful eulogy. Thank you for sharing the important life lessons your grandfather taught you.