Remembering lessons my grandparents taught

Sunday was National Grandparents Day. I must confess, it is not one of those days I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about or observing. Had I known about it sooner, I would have done something to celebrate.

What I find amazing is this holiday has been around in parts of this country for 40 years. The first Grandparents Day was observed in 1973 in West Virginia when then governor Arch Moore signed the proclamation, according to the National Grandparents Day Council. Five years later, the U.S. Congress passed legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparent’s Day. President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation. According to the council, the month of September was picked because it represented the “autumn years” of life.

What a wonderful idea. I find it particularly interesting because someone recently told me that all men are shaped by three women in their lives. For me, the three have been my mother, my paternal grandmother and my wife. Every one of them have enriched my life in ways that are too numerous to list in this space. All three are very strong individuals whom I love very much.

Since today is Grandparents Day, I should focus on what they taught me while growing up. My paternal grandma grew up as a preacher’s daughter. She was told she had to learn to play the piano so she could entertain guests. She was sent to what was called a finishing school for young women. There she learned French and how to be a proper lady.

She passed on some of the lessons she learned growing up to me and my two sisters. I still can hear her words when I find myself in certain situations. “People who swear are only showing that they have a lack of vocabulary,” was one that comes to mind whenever utter something I know she wouldn’t approve of. Other lessons dealt with table manners and how a gentleman should treat a lady. Keep your elbows off the table. Always open a door for a lady. Be sure to say thank-you and please. The basic stuff that everyone should know.

My paternal grandpa taught me how to drive a tractor and a pickup truck with manual transmissions. I learned how to milk a cow and hypnotize a chicken. I also learned the facts of life from watching Billy the Bull do his thing with three young heifers. Grandma was not happy about that lesson.

My maternal grandpa taught me how to pray before going to bed. I can still hear him saying the words he spoke the night he taught me. My maternal grandma taught me where to place the forks, knives and spoons for a proper place setting at the dinner table.

Maybe the most important thing they taught my sisters and me is unconditional love. We learned how to show and share love without embarrassment. What a wonderful gift.

None of my grandmas or grandpas are alive today, but I still carry them with me wherever I go. For that reason alone, I wish them all a Happy Grandparents Day. 




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