A Lesson From My Grandfather

October 7, 2016 Off By La Donna Finnels-Neal

My Grandpa John and my baby sister Teah

The other day, I was sitting on the swing with my grandfather in his yard.  We were chatting about his old days.  That’s our usual conversation.  Admittedly, I don’t see him nearly as often as I should, but most times he still recognizes me.

This particular conversation, he stayed focused on one primary subject.  He wanted to go home.  I said “Grandpa, you are already home.”  He said, “No!  I want to go home!  I want to find a job and get my life back on track.”  Mind you, my grandfather is 87 years old and has been retired for more than 20 years.  I said “Okay.  You want to go home to Refugio (his home town)?”  He said again “Yes!  I got to go!  I got to go work and get my life together.  I got to go make some money!”

He’s starting to exhibit the signs of Alzheimer’s and it’s painful sometimes to see him that way.  The once so strong man.  Imposing even.  A man that took no mess and gave plenty (still that way sometimes).  He was a shoot first and ask questions later type of man…literally.  A great provider.  Mean as a snake but loving at the same time.  He wanted just one thing.  To go home and work.

If there is one thing I can say it’s this…my grandfather has lived his life.  His way.  If he wanted to do something, he asked no permission.  He asked no questions.  He did it.  He’s led a pretty simple life.  Taking pleasure mostly in fishing, hunting, working and enjoying the company of family and friends.   But he’s lived life his way.

Our conversation made me ask myself some questions.  Am I living?  How do I really want to live my life?

I can say I have tried, but it seems that every day is jam packed with never-ending meetings and work, phone calls and more.  There seems to be very little time left to just relax.  Chill.  To chat with friends…even family.  It’s a tough revelation.  I had to ask myself, “When are you going to make time for the things you are missing?”  To live?  Because at some point, like my grandpa, the brain will want to do, but the body just won’t…or can’t cooperate.

I’m still figuring it out, but I know for sure I want to do more NOW, not later.  Laugh more.  Love more.  Enjoy friends and family more.  In the end, those are the things that really matter.

I still truly enjoy conversations with my grandpa, on his good and not so good days.  And I almost always learn something new about him.  But I’m determined to do better.  Much better.

Thank you grandpa.


La Donna Finnels-Neal