Ah man, this is a tough one to write. I’m not sure I am going to have the strength to go back and edit this for grammatical errors so I am going to apologize for potential miscues now. My pap pap passed away last week peacefully but unexpectedly. Death is apart of life. There’s no avoiding it. However, no matter how prepared you think you are for your loved ones to pass, especially your grandparents, when you get that phone call saying, “Col, your grandfather passed away in his sleep,” your body and mind go numb. There’s no way he can really be gone, right? He was the strongest person I know. He was golfing up until like two years ago at the age of 90. I just saw him a few days prior on Christmas eve. It’s just pure disbelief. My pap was one of the few people I look up to in this world. Man, he was always there for me. He came to all of my games. He was always there to take me to practice whenever I needed it. Always slipping me money growing up so I could buy myself new shoes. I’m not sure there was anyone more proud of me than him. I’d go over and visit him when he and my grandmother needed caregivers. Every time I’d go over, he’d pull the caregiver into our conversation and tell her some story about how great I was at something. I’d then pull her aside and apologize for his repeated stories about me. Her response was, “No Colin, he loves you kids so much. He’s so proud of you.” Ahhh, her response just plays in replay in my head right now. That’s why I want to share the one biggest lesson he taught me; How to be the strongest and most loving person in every single room.
For those who knew my pap, knew he was one tough son of a gun. That man never complained, ever. It didn’t matter what type of pain he was going through. It didn’t matter what was going on in his life. He never once felt sorry for himself or uttered a word of complaint. He was as rock solid as they came. Haha growing up, when I was acting crazy, my mom would threaten “Colin, don’t make me call your pap pap over here!” Instantly, I’d straighten up. I didn’t want that smoke! Shoot, I knew I wasn’t winning that fight. He had a death grip tighter than anyone I’d ever seen. Once he got his paws on you it was game over. All it took was once and I learned my lesson with him. It makes sense he was so strong. He was in the military, was an incredible baseball player, an avid golfer and worked with machinery until literally the day he died. He loved the disciplinary life of the military. It’s actually kind of hard to believe he enjoyed the military as much as he did. He fought in the Korean war and was a proud veteran. I’m going to miss his war stories. Luckily, he told me them enough I’ll never forget. I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about how much his toughness inspires me. My pap never took time off work unless we went on vacation. He started his own company, Thompson Gear & Machine and he was obsessed with working those machines. Watching it was a form of art, truly. He knew every millimeter of those gears he’d make. He knew every detail of its purpose and function. He just loved what he did. He worked till the day he died. That’s something I strive to emulate; to love work so much that I never want to stop. That’s why I’m building Athletic Fortitude, so I can be like him and be apart of something until my last breath. Hopefully he gives me the strength to endure the ups and downs as gracefully as he did.
You never would have guessed it given his intense personality, but my pap easily had the biggest heart of anyone I know. He rarely said the words “I love you.” but he never needed to. You could always feel his love. He was the epitome of actions speak louder than words. He truly thought I was the greatest athlete ever. Ha, sometimes it was the best confidence boost I could ask for. It got to a point where he was telling me stories about myself that I’m not even sure were true haha. He was so proud of me and my siblings for everything we accomplished. He’d tell anyone he met how great we all were. But, let me tell you this, there was no one on earth that man loved as much as my older brother Ryan. For those of you who don’t know, my brother Ryan has down syndrome. Those two were inseparable. They worked together, they golfed together, and heck my brother basically lived at his house. Me thinking I’m witty changed my brothers last name from Jonov to Thompson in my mom’s phone claiming he was more of a Thompson than a Jonov haaa. Not gonna lie, I laugh at my own jokes. I get that from my pap pap. I really wish I could put into words how much my pap loved Ryan. He’d do anything and everything for him. There was nothing, and i mean nothing, that my pap wouldn’t have done for him. The hardest part of all of this was knowing how my brother would take his passing. When I saw Ry break down sobbing, my heart sunk. We all gathered around him and hugged him in unison. It’s truly amazing just how much love was shared between those two. After their phone calls, they’d sign off always saying “adios amigo” to one another. It’s like my pap knew something was off. The night he passed, he called my parents house and demanded to my mom to talk to Ryan. If you knew my pap, when he demanded something, there was no going back, He was stubborn as the come. Reluctantly, my mom walked the phone over to Ry and they had one last conversation and they did their signature “adios amigo.” The last person my pap spoke to was his favorite in the world. He wouldn’t have wanted it any differently.
I promise you this pap pap, every single day I will strive to be the rare combination of the strongest and most loving that you so eloquently made look simple. I know I’ll fail a lot but there won’t be a moment you’re not on my mind.
Rest In Peace
To Building Fortitude forever and always.
Colin Jonov, Founder & CEO Athletic Fortitude
P.S. Want to share your experiences or challenges with us? Reply to this newsletter or connect with me on social media @ColkyJonov10. I’m here to support you on your journey!
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