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Lessons from Grandpa

March 30, 2012

My grandfather turned 85 years old this week. He is most definitely the patriarch of the family and of the family business, and I can’t imagine life without him or even attempt to measure the impact he’s had on my life. When I think of him, so many memories flood my mind and heart.


He lived with us for a while when I was young, and my sisters and I liked to sneak “Big League Bubble Gum” into his tobacco pouch. He’d play along as if he didn’t know and blow the biggest pink bubble we’d ever seen while we screeched in delight. Every Sunday he joined us for our traditional after-church meal of roast and potatoes. When Mom wasn’t looking, he’d eat the chunks of meat off my sister’s plate so she wouldn’t get in trouble for not eating since she hated roast. Our most favorite Christmas tradition was instilled by him—stockings with an apple and orange in honor of the Christmases with his parents during the depression when that was all they could afford for gifts.


So many memories … so many moments … so many things he’s taught us.


There are three lessons I’ve learned from my grandfather; lessons that have impacted me every day of my life and ones that will continue to uphold for the rest of my life.


1. Always Say Hello to Others.

One time Grandpa took us out to eat after church on Sunday. As we were leaving the restaurant, a crowded local favorite, we passed another family on the sidewalk. I shyly smiled and put my head down as I passed them by. It was the first time Grandpa got stern with me: “Why didn’t you say hello?” he demanded. “I didn’t know them,” I stammered. “Doesn’t matter … you always speak to people when you pass them by.”

As usual, I didn’t understand the lesson at the time. I was a shy child. Why did I have to speak to strangers? As I’ve grown, the Lord has taught me this same lesson. Every person you pass on the sidewalk, in the grocery aisle, in the hallway of school—wherever—everyone needs and deserves a smile and a friendly greeting. A simple smile can make someone’s day; it could even lead to a conversation where you can share Jesus.

Don’t let a person pass you by without a smile.


2. Always Pray Before Meals.

I have never, ever not seen Grandpa pray before a meal. He always bends his head, closes his eyes, and prays silently. I have seen him do this whether he’s eating alone or in a fine-dining restaurant surrounded by associates from large corporations. He never fails to pray.

How incredible this was as a child to observe. How incredible this is as a now grown adult to observe. Every time I am in a restaurant, I am reminded of this—reminded of him bowing his head silently. Sometimes, I have followed his example; sometimes I’ve let embarrassment control the desire to pray. But his example is always with me.

Don’t begin a meal without thanking God first.


3. Always Say “I Love You.”

I grew up in a small town with every single family member living within a 10-mile radius. So whether or not we saw each other that day, Grandpa called every single night to “check in.” And just as he never failed to speak to others or pray before meals, he never failed to say “I love you” before hanging up. He still calls each of his kids every night. Raised in a generation that didn’t show their emotions or verbalize their love for others, Grandpa somehow always showed his love for us. Plus, he always, always said it. Once my mother said, “I can’t imagine my dad not calling every night, not hearing those words ‘I love you.’ ”

Neither can I. That’s why I always tell my husband and my children “I love you” before leaving them, before they walk out the door, or before we hang up on the phone. I may have already said it to my husband on the phone, but I have to say it again—it has to be the last thing before ending the call. It has to be the last thing my children hear me say as they run out to play, jump out of the car for school, or hug me good night.

Don’t let others you love leave your presence without telling them you love them.


One Grandpa. Eight-five years. Three lifelong lessons.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2012 3:20 pm

    What a blessing to have such a grandfather! My grandpa died a few years back, but I have always been so thankful for his life and the way he showed the love of Jesus to those around him.

    • April 2, 2012 8:09 am

      What a great legacy to have left behind! And I’m thankful that we know we will someday be with our grandfathers again!

  2. March 31, 2012 9:55 pm

    I love this! Your grandpa sounds like an incredible man. I definitely grew up in an “I love you” family, and the tradition is completely instilled with both Terry and I. Like you said, even if we’ve already said it in a phone conversation, even if we just said it two sentences ago, it’s still the last thing we say before we hang up. The same goes with all of my family members, and on family trips or visits, we all say it before bed and before leaving. I think it’s so important ~ even though we all know it, I think you can never say it too much!

    • April 2, 2012 8:07 am

      I’ve realized that growing up in an “I love you” family makes a lot of difference. Now my two girls are very loving and always saying “I love you” too! Blessed by this legacy started by my grandpa!


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