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This following is a guest post by Jake Kauffman, professional writer and grandson helping Robert Kauffman live out his bucket list.

There’s an old East Asian proverb that states, “one generation plants the trees in whose shade another generation rests.”

My grandfather Robert Roy Kauffman was born on May 25th 1923. You can call him Papa. He turned 92 years old on Memorial Day. His favorite artist growing up was Cab Callaway. As of a month ago I didn’t know the answer to that question. I haven’t engaged him enough to know whom his favorite artist was growing up. There’s a lot about him I don’t know. Maybe you can relate. This represents a small depiction of the disconnect between Millennials and those who built our nation and fought to ensure the freedoms we enjoy today. We’ve become so used to the shade that we have forgotten those who are responsible for its existence.

Of the over 16 million military servicemen and women who served during World War II less than 5% remain alive today with over 500 passing away each day. The generation that fought to preserve this nation’s liberty is disappearing faster than we can comprehend. Meanwhile we’re too concerned with updating our Facebook status everyday or increasing our number of Twitter followers.

The day after his birthday he was still in bed when noon rolled around, which isn’t unusual. Both my mother and father work during the day so he typically spends most afternoons alone. When I woke him he told me that he initially awoke at 9:30 but went back to bed. I commented that he must have been exhausted after all the previous days activities, to which he responded, “Not really. Being tired is all in my head. I just realized I didn’t have anything to wake up for.”

As I watch my grandfather’s slow decline I had this poignant realization that aside from his surviving family he is running out of things to stay alive for. As much as he enjoys and cherishes his family it has become obvious he is at peace. He is “ready to go” as he so bluntly maintains. He no longer has anything waking him up in the morning.

This past spring Papa wanted to visit Disney World one last time before he died. The old man rode all the rollercoasters. I kid you not. He insisted. Despite the cautious insistence of several ride operators that he was too old he responded, “Who says?!?” God love him.

They say the number one regret of the dying is that they wished they had the courage to follow their dreams. So following the family trip to Disney World I asked Papa what else he wanted to do before he passed. I told him to make a list. It then occurred to me I have a rare opportunity staring me in the face.

Together, Papa and I will be documenting our journey to check items off his bucket list on social media. Here are some recent posts of our adventures:

I’ve spent the better portion of my 20’s perfecting the art of playing it safe. The prospect of failure always scared me away from even attempting to pursue my dream of being a writer. I can’t imagine a better story than to help Papa live out his bucket list, sharing our journey and writing a book about it.

In the midst of this writing I realized that besides being a father someday this might be the most important thing I ever do. It is something my family will be able to hold on to forever. It will allow me to cement his legacy and pursue my dream at the same time. Now that’s what I call a win-win.

Follow Roy and Jake as their journey unfolds on the HomeHero blog.

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