| from John Hannigan |


“I have to tell you something. Are you sitting down?” My mother was on the phone with me a few weeks ago. “Wayne died last year. I just found out.”

This is the second time in as many years that my mom has found out later than normal that her father had passed. First her biological dad passed away a few years ago, and as he lived in a foreign country, she had to call the state department to actually find out if he had passed. This time, her step-father, the grandfather I grew up with until my grandmother passed, had remarried and his new wife’s family hadn’t bothered to notify anyone. Death makes people do weird things. 

I have to admit that when my mother told me that my grandfather had passed I wasn’t really sad. He was a good man, but he had disconnected from our family. He tried to stay attached at times, but I hadn’t spoken to him in years. I tried, but he wasn’t interested.  

Within a few days of each other, a few months ago, 2 other men in my life passed. Richard Headrick, a man who had touched my life immeasurably, had been a mentor, and a groomsman in my wedding, had passed from cancer. Also, my great uncle, Dave, my father’s uncle, had passed. These men I mourned, for they had both touched my life.

My uncle, Dave, was a great man! He was always eager to connect, share stories, and listen to me drone on about whatever. I grew up going to the farm where I was free to roam. He had a strong spirit, with a gentle edge. When I would do something wrong, he would explain to me what I did and provide another option. He never raised his voice to me. I have great memories of him teaching me how to drive on the back country roads of Missouri. It was convenient that as a postman his SUV had pedals on the passenger side, which was a good thing because he sure did need two use them once or twice. There was such freedom found on the farm. I even have a scar on my right hand thanks to that freedom, but maybe that’s for another blog! 

I hold fond memories, too many to write about, from my time with Uncle Dave. He taught me so much and I mourned his death hard.  

Richard Headrick had a serious desire to share the gospel. I met Richard and his wife, Gina, at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Arizona. I was young and just making some changes in my life. He was a friend who was generous with his wisdom and a desire to see me walk a righteous path. I spoke to him often, he was in my wedding, and we would catch up from time to time as I needed wisdom and guidance. Richard owned more companies than I could count, always had a new idea, and never apologized for who he was. His death hit me like a ton of bricks.

Three men who taught me much about life; the good, the bad, the real. I take something from each of these relationships, and I hope you will learn something with me. We all leave a mark on everyone we touch; a fingerprint if you will.  

So what are the marks that have been left? What did these three men teach me? 

My Uncle Dave taught me that you can be a strong man with a gentle touch, that you can always “escape to the farm,” and most importantly that hard work is good. 

Richard, wow! What did he not teach me. His testimony shows me that you can always have a second chance, that it’s never too late to make good out of bad decisions, and God redeems! He taught me the value of education, either traditionally or through experience. He showed me that relationships were more important than stuff or money. He modeled selflessness and a desire to do whatever it takes to share the gospel.  

As I sit here thinking, what did Wayne teach me, I have to admit I’m at a loss to find something nice. He taught me to put myself first, to protect myself no matter the cost. He taught me materialism and selfishness. It was always about his needs and wants, never about anyone else’s. He taught what not to be. And, you know what? That is just as valuable as teaching me what to be! Without the positive examples of Richard, my great uncle, and many others, I might be like Wayne today. I’m grateful for God’s protection and love.

What about you? Grandparents, “mature” adults of a certain age, what are you teaching the next generation, and the one after that? What are you passing down? How will you be remembered? 

Parents, what are you learning, gleaning, and how are you applying it? What traits do you not want your kids to see, which ones can they learn from? How can the opportunity to learn what not to do be powerful?

We are who we are partly because of how we were raised and the influences on our lives. As I wrote about three men who made a difference in my life, who have you thought of who is partly responsible for why you believe what you believe and do what you do?

Who do you know you’re impacting? Who’s on the fringe who you may be influencing from a distance? We make an impact, even when we don’t know! Make a positive impact today!


John Hannigan has been passionate about helping both businesses and families for over twenty years. Married to his best friend, Melissa, and father to four wonderful kiddos, John’s passion and zest for life keeps him and his family always ready for the next adventure. Whether he is leading mission trips to Puerto Rico, serving families in his local church, guiding strategy and vision sessions with his clients, or taking his family on a spontaneous trip while keeping everyone laughing, John glorifies God each day by using the talents and gifts he has been given. He is excited to contribute to the Celebrate Kids team.