...A story about the best Grandpa in the world.
Gramp & Heidi 2004
My Grandpa (along with his wife, my Grandma) is probably my best friend in the whole world. He single-handedly saved me (time and again) from succumbing to The Natural Man side of myself (selfish, worldly, self-destructive, judgmental, obsessive, etc...). He also nurtured my talents and interests in small but significant ways. For instance, one time in 1984 we were riding in his car and listening to a tape of Strauss waltzes. I told him I loved this music, and when he dropped me off, he gave me the tape. It was the same for books, maps, sheet music, food... every time I showed an interest, he presented me an opportunity. I have tried to follow that example with my girls so they will pursue their interests and have full and well-rounded lives, and TONS of self-confidence and self-respect.
Another great lesson I learned from my Grandpa through actions, not words, was the Dr. Phil-ism "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?" Growing up, I had, as my dad put it, an "over-developed sens of justice," meaning things were pretty black-and-white/wrong-or-right on my little world. I could cry "NOT FAIR" and be pretty merciless at times because Being Right was so important to me.
Once I got into a disagreement with my grandma and I knew that I was right. So rather than respecting her and considering her feelings and wishes rather than facts and my own self, I argued with her. Grandpa talked to me about it later, not in a scolding way, but in an adult conversation. He said, "You should have listened to your Grandma and respected her wishes. Not because she was right but because she is your Grandma and because you love her." I felt like a tiny, bratty little ant at that point. I watched my Grandpa and reflected on his past behavior and realized that he lived that principle all the time, and not just with Grandma. The facts are that Grandpa is probably right about stuff 99% of the time, but he goes with the flow and lets people learn things by themselves, gently SHOWING or nudging us in the right direction, but never in a very didactic way...just out of LOVE...love for us and love for God.
I could make a list a mile long of what he has taught me, and back it all up with stories and quotes and scriptures, but right now in my life, this is the lesson that means the most. It helps me in so many relationships. It's a lesson I have to refresh for myself over and over again, but I need look no further than my Papi (Poppy) to remember how to let it all go.
Elrey Family 1975 (that's me and my Pops on the left)
Happy Birthday, Grandpa!
I love you!