The world lost a great mentor this past week.
For me it has been a week filled with many emotions.
Sadness, happiness, joy, tears, and mostly a lot of love. My Uncle George (my Mom’s brother and the 8th of 9 kids) passed away and many of our family converged on Gatlinburg, Tennessee for his funeral. Uncle George had an impact on my life, and many others, and he is the inspiration for today’s article.
Listening to all the stories this week and hearing people’s experiences with Uncle George, I realize that we all truly need an Uncle George in our lives… and some of us probably are an Uncle George to others.
Who was Uncle George?
George Henry Martin was the 8th child of 9 (My Mom is #9) born to George and Margaret Martin who immigrated to Canada in 1929. They took a chance on a life in the new world and with 2 trunks and 4 kids, they sailed to Montreal, Canada and then took a train to a small town in Alberta, Vermilion, to farm a parcel of land given to them by the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway). They had 5 more kids and all lived in a little house on the Alberta prairies. I don’t think my Grampa Martin was too good at farming though and he ultimately became a rural route mailman and later on the Mayor of the town. Not too shabby for a former Miner from Wales.
With 8 older brothers and sisters, my Uncle George had many role models and he grew up to get a University degree, became a CPA and moved his family to the Bahamas in 1968. He had great success there and in 1990 he and my Aunt decided to move to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and start a business there. One of their four kids was born in the US and they decided to move here to finish raising their family and started life anew again (sounds like my Grandparents when I think about it). Their store Mr. Tablecloth and More was born – and if you need any unique tablecloths, Vera Bradley bags, or any of a number of cool gifts and specialty items, check it out online! The store did well and eventually they had opened another in Pigeon Forge, near Dollywood! Two stores in this fun, tourist-y-area in Tennessee that I love to visit. A Great Success story! My cousin Gerry has taken over the family business and continues to build on what his Dad and Mom started.
To me, from afar, anything Uncle George did was golden, and he was truly a golden person. A man of deep faith and filled with more love of family than anyone I have ever known; he has touched many lives. He was a keen planner and always looking for a way to pave a path to somewhere for someone – and not always himself, in fact very rarely, did I hear of him doing anything for himself.
Uncle George was a driving force behind the planning of the Martin Family Reunions our family has held and I am so thankful for all his pushes as our very extended family has gotten to know one another much better because of these reunions. In 2014, almost 90 of us gathered in his town in Tennessee and I am so grateful he was able to experience that reunion with us, he worked very hard to make sure he was there (after having hepatitis, a liver transplant and a stroke – he was an amazing man!)
As we celebrated his life this past week, it became even more clear to me that Uncle George dished out advice and ideas and inspirations to many of his family and also friends and acquaintances from all over the world. A truer mentor and role model there has never been and one that offered advice with a sparkle in his eye and always a touch of mischievousness to add a little fun in to it all.
This is why I believe everyone needs an Uncle George, someone to inspire you to greater things… a Role Model and Mentor.
My Uncle George leaves imprints of himself all over the world and because of this many people’s lives have been enhanced and changed – and for the better.
What makes a great Mentor or Role Model?
Being a good listener is one of the top traits in effective mentors and role models. Sometimes the biggest benefit is listening to the mentee talk things out in order to create plans and move ahead. Sometimes the best thing a Mentor can do is not talk at all.
Not only is a good Mentor a good communicator, he/she needs to be willing to communicate and share. The transfer of knowledge is very important as a role model. Sharing your ideas, experiences and more will help the mentee learn from experiences. Not sharing will stifle the relationship.
Passion to Inspire
A good Mentor wants to see people succeed, and he or she will actively support your success with words and action. Their words will be what inspires you to keep on trucking, because sometimes that is the biggest role a mentor plays.
A good role model will inspire others. They must have an upbeat, optimistic attitude and outlook on life. Not many people I know would be interested in a role model who sees the negative in everything. The ability to see the bright side in difficult situations will be helpful.
Part of a role models role is to help the mentee come up with ideas and ways to overcome roadblocks. Creativity will play a key part in this. I can tell you right now, if my Uncle George could figure out a way to get around things to get to the finish line he would do it.
My Uncle George was these things and more… a loving and faithful husband, son, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, businessman and most of all a mentor to many. I can only aspire to one day be as great a role model for others as he has been to me.
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