If you met my 100-year-old Grandpa, you would immediately feel like you made a new friend.
His cheerful smile is completely disarming.
He can settle into a conversation with anyone.
And it doesn’t take long to realize he truly cares about everyone he comes into contact with.
I am so grateful to have my 100-year-old Grandpa to look up to. He’s a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather and even a great-great-grandfather.
But to me, he’s just “Grandpa.”
He’s on my mind this morning after we spent last evening at the Atlanta Hawks game where he was recognized for his service in WWII.
(Yep, not only is he a wonderful person to be around, he’s also part of an amazing generation that defended freedom around the world, and then came back home to step right back into normal civilian life).
Today, I wanted to share five lessons I’m thankful to be in the process of learning from my grandpa.
Family Comes First
In the nearly 45 years I’ve known Grandpa, he’s always made family a priority.
- Driving his motor home 600 miles to visit us as kids.
- Taking the john boat out to let me and my siblings catch fish.
- Teaching me how to shoot a gun.
- Caring for his special needs daughter (my aunt).
- Buying us candy sticks at Cracker Barrel.
- Spending hours playing board games with us as kids.
- And lovingly caring for Grandma until the day she passed just over seven years ago. (I miss you Grandma!)
Grandpa spent his time, his money, and his effort looking out for his family. And that legacy is something I can learn from and aspire to carry through to my family as well!
If it Needs Doin’, Do it Now
Grandpa is a sucker for projects.
If your chair is squeaking, he’ll have oil on it before you sit down the next day.
If a shelf is off balance, he’ll pull out his level and have it fixed before you know it.
Last year he broke his hip tearing down a fence in his back yard. Yep, he was doing demolition work at 99-years-old.
Thankfully, he’s had an amazing recovery.
As a tool and die maker by trade, Grandpa is incredibly resourceful. And he knows how to make just about anything work. (If he doesn’t, he’ll ask enough questions until he DOES.)
Sometimes when I have a big project that needs to be done, I’m tempted to procrastinate or even just take more time than necessary to plan.’
But not Grandpa!
He’ll jump straight into any project and won’t be satisfied until it’s done — and done right! I honestly think he dreams about how to fix things at night.
Plant More Than Enough and Be Generous
Grandpa is known around Indiana, and now in my home state of Georgia for his garden. He can make anything grow and knows just what kind of soil, fertilizer, water and sunlight is best.
I remember picking green beans, cherry tomatoes and onions out of his garden, and chasing the rabbits and squirrels up and down the rows.
The best thing about Grandpa’s garden was that he always had more than enough for his family. Which meant he could be generous with his neighbors, the people he worked with, and members of his church.
We don’t all have gardens full of veggies and fruit to give away. But we can all learn from Grandpa’s generosity. He makes the lives of everyone around him more healthy and tasty!
Ask Questions That Make Other People Feel Valuable
If you share a cup of coffee with my grandpa, you’ll walk away feeling like he “gets” you.
That’s because he’ll ask you all kinds of questions about what you do, why you do it, how your project or vocation works, and what you’re working on right now.
Even at 100 years old, his engineer and problem solving mind still runs laps around mine.
Grandpa’s questions aren’t just about the logistics of a specific project, sport or problem you’re solving. I can always tell that he’s interested in the person he’s having a conversation with.
That’s a skill I want to continue to build in my own life. Because I know I feel special when Grandpa sits down and talks with me. And I want people to walk away from conversations with me feeling heard and valued.
Don’t Take Life Too Seriously
Ok, Grandpa may be great… but he’s got a mischievous side too!
You never know when he’s going to pull a prank like putting salt in the sugar bowl, or daring my brother to take a big bite out of an onion.
He still laughs about hiding in the rafters of a small-town train stop as a kid. When the girls sat down to wait for the train, he reached down and pulled off their hats, startling the heck out of them.
Once during WWII, he even drove a sultry general past an enemy post — just outside of artillery range — but close enough to startle the general and pay him back for being more focused on looting than on fighting the war.
I love hearing about his practical jokes and seeing his eyes light up when he tells me about them. It’s a good reminder to laugh at the twists and turns life gives us and not take ourselves too seriously.
Thanks for the lessons Grandpa. I’m grateful for your influence on my life and your legacy passed down through many generations!