To all past present and future grandfathers, papaws, grandpas and any other name you may be known as,
Grandfathers, you are special. You are here to help nurture, guide, and protect the precious lives created by your own children. I can only view your role as one of the most influential jobs you can have. There are many things that are to be learned in the time spent with you. These are things that only you can teach. I cherish my relationship with my father more than I could ever even imagine putting into words, but the relationship with my papaw is just different.
My papaw was the second most influential man in my life, behind only my dad. There were many things my dad taught me that I will use every single day of my life. My dad taught me how to tie a tie, how to change a tire, how to check and change my oil, and how to fix a toilet or sink, and even more, just as many others learned from their father. My papaw taught me things that would be just as useful in everyday life. These were along the lines of how to give back, how to enjoy every moment of time, how to love others, how to show kindness and compassion while still having caution to avoid being taken advantage of. All around he taught me how to have fun and just live.
My papaw was the only grandfather that I really had. My father’s dad passed about a year before I was born. His mom remarried and her new husband was very kind and treated me as if I was his actual grandson. My papaw, however, was just different. He was my mother’s dad. My dad’s father passed about two years before I was born. On my mother’s side, I am one of four grandkids. The other three are girls. I quickly became his mini-me. He and I were inseparable from the start. I could never go into enough detail about how much he helped me develop into the man I have grown into.
My papaw helped me develop my love of athletics. He was the best golfing partner in the world. There was never a moment that I didn’t have time to listen to his stories, exaggerated as they may have been. I could sit and listen and ask questions for hours and hours. Whether they were about his run as a dance contest champion that lasted until he was banned for winning too much or about the things he experienced in the army. My absolute favorite story was one of his many dancing stories. He always told me about how he would have girls arguing over who would get to be his partner that night. He said that one night there was a girl that he had seen before but never danced with her. He decided that she was the one that night. He danced with her and won the contests that night, and he even stole her hat to make sure he saw her again, but winning that contest wasn’t the best thing that came from that night. He had not only found a great dance partner that night, he had found a great partner for life. That was his story about meeting his future wife, the woman I knew as my Nana.
The point of me telling about him in this way is to give an idea of how important he was to me. I cannot put into words how thankful I am for having him in my life. On the 7th of June 2020, I lost my papaw. This was after a very long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The only real thing that helped me get through seeing his mind waste away is all the memories that I have of him.
To conclude this long letter, I just want to say something to all past, present, and future grandfathers. You likely will never understand the influence you have on the young minds and lives of a grandchild. Be cautious of the things you say and do because I can without a doubt say that you will always have young eyes that see you as a superhero, in their eyes, you could do no wrong.
To all current and past grandfathers, thank you for facing the challenge of helping bring up another generation. Thank you for teaching and influencing something that will outlive you. Most of all, thank you for loving unconditionally.
To all future grandfathers, you hold the clay that will be used to mold a child into what they will become in life. Good luck. Be the good you want to see, and you will succeed. Be open to changes in life and the world and no matter what, make kindness, compassion, and love the number one priority not only to give to your grandchildren but also to show to all those you encounter in order to teach the importance of such actions.