Above is a picture of a very young me next to my grandfather at I believe was his 80th birthday party. Also included in the picture is my late aunt Virginia. When I was growing up my grandfather was one of my heroes. He had a presence that commanded respect. He didn’t have to raise his voice or do anything to get it either. (My mother might have a slightly different memory of that) He was a man of great integrity. He was honest, fair and did what he felt was right. Just last night as Margie and I were pulling into the grocery store I was thinking about things my grandfather had told me when I was young. Many of them at the time I didn’t either understand or I thought I knew better. If you read the last post you may see a pattern developing.
There are things that happen in my life even to this day, long after he passed away, that have me thinking, “That is what my grandfather meant!” His favorite singer was Eddy Arnold. I thought if I ever had the choice I would never listen to the song Cattle call again. After he passed away I missed hearing it. I was fortunate enough to meet a great man named John Whelan who shared the same affection for Mr. Arnold and often sang this song. Sadly, John has passed away. I was grateful to be able to speak at his funeral. My grandfather had a good knowledge of healing herbs and foods. He served in the second World War. He loved the tropics and had fond memories of being stationed in Hawaii.
Another reason my grandfather was my hero, was the way he conducted himself in the relationship he had with my grandmother. My grandmother was an amazing woman as well and taught me many things about cooking and being hospitable. She was, to one degree or another, an opinionated and on several occasions, an upset woman. She had several medical conditions that I imagine weighed on her. During some of her more earnest ‘correcting’ of my grandfather, I noticed he just shook his head and rarely seemed to offer much of a rebuttal. Even when the situation was obvious he was correct and she was not. When that truth revealed itself, he seldom made mention of it. One day I asked him why he never said anything. I asked how he managed to stay happy and some days even sane being yelled at for things that were often not his fault. I recall what he told me to this very day. I can picture it as if it were yesterday. As we sat in his kitchen he told me, “The secret to a successful relationship is to bend but not break.”
I won’t tell you how long it took me to figure out the wisdom of that statement. Let me just tell you that in my relationship with the beautiful Margie we often disagree on things. I have learned to differentiate between things that I just want and things that go against what I value. If they are issues that do not cause me to sacrifice my principles or my standards, then there is always room to compromise. In this way you have to bend. Sometimes you might even just let the other person have their way to keep the peace. If it is something that truly goes against what you believe then you have to take a stand and not break. Applying this knowledge that my grandfather gave me so many years ago in that kitchen has allowed me to build the best relationship I have ever had. I guess if I had learned and applied it sooner I would not have had the opportunity to share life with the amazing woman I do now.
Just a reminder that my grandfather is still teaching me and still a big part of my life long after he is gone. If you have recently, or even not so recently lost someone, realize they will live on and be a part of your life. When someone we really love leaves us, it is only physical. Their lessons, their words and their love will continue to affect us until we are the ones who leave.