Things my grandfather taught us

1. My grandparents pulled us into the dining room one day. On top of the buffet cabinet set a wine rack filled with bottles of wine (about 5 bottles). My grandfather pointed out the bottles of wine, he asked us if we ever noticed that they were never opened. I hadn’t. He said the only reason they were there is because someone would on occasion give a bottle of wine as a gift. Since my grandparents were not big drinkers, they would simply go on display.

2. The same day, my grandmother told us that if you raise a child right, they would always come back to what they know even if they strayed away for a bit.

3. My grandfather said that he used to smoke as a young man. He said that one day, he added up how much he spent on cigarettes for the year. The number alone made him quit cold turkey.

4. My grandfather liked my grandmother and he respected her, but he says he fell in love with her on one day in particular. He saw her as she was headed to the bank. He asked her where she was going. She told him she was headed to the bank to deposit a few of her paychecks that she hadn’t cashed yet. He said that most girls he knew had the money already spent before they got paid. My grandmother had always been wise with her money and was a very thoughtful and frugal lady.

5. My grandfather said that as a kid, he was on his way home when he witnessed a fight break out. He stopped along with other kids to watch. His father, saw him in the commotion and snatched him up. He said he got in trouble that day. Later on his father told him that if he saw fighting or other trouble brewing, to go the other way.

These are all things I’ve come across in life one way or another. I’ve tried to lean toward what I was taught. As a preteen, I’d wear mini skirts. My grandmother told me I would catch pneumonia in the butt hole wearing things like that. She taught me about proper foundation garments and dressing conservatively. I haven’t always. But they were right. You tend to come back to what you know.

My grandfather taught us about living through the depression and how he worked to do his part and contribute to his household.

Life wasn’t easy for black men especially. He told us how he had opportunities open up for him by being tenacious with a willingness to learn. He taught us how education brought him out of poverty into a life of comfort where he could provide for his family.

He taught us the importance of commitment and sacrifice to make your family work.

He taught us the different chores you needed to know as a homeowner to keep your grounds and gardens beautiful. He taught us the importance of educating yourself. There were no “instructional videos” you could look up on your cell phone back then. As a matter of fact, cellphones weren’t even widely heard of when I was growing up. There were several collections of encyclopedias in his private library as well as a good number of “how to” books on woodworking, wiring and building.

My grandfather was organized. He built racks and shelves for his tools. He also built cubbies and other organizing units for his workshop and his darkroom.

He was a man you could depend on. He came home right after work every day except Wednesday for bowling league and we all went as a family. That was also our night to eat out. Otherwise, we cooked at home and sat down to dinner as a family..

It was important that he taught us all these things. I had gotten so far away from how I was raised. I don’t think I could have made it back. I don’t think I would have accepted the wonderful husband I have today if I hadn’t recognized the same qualities in him . I thank God each day for having a wonderful grandfather and other men in my family and friends that were stable and reliable and showed us what it meant to be a father. They showed me what a good man looks like. They are not perfect, by any means. But they put forth the effort daily. They are not always soft with their words, they don’t baby you and skirt around issues. They call it like they see it and you may not always like what they see. They tell you the hard things because they love you. They help you to work out plans for improving because that is what dads do.

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