I've known kids whose grandfathers took them hunting, taught them how to fix cars, went to the races with them, and every other manly activity you can name. All those things are great, but what my Granddad did for me was even better. He taught that it's possible to live with a manly grace that goes beyond machismo. He taught me how I should speak to women, how I should relate to children, and how I should carry myself with respect and confidence. He taught me that one's inner life can be even richer than that of the wealthiest magnate. He showed me the joy and the value of the written word and, just as importantly, that you should never, ever be without a sharp pocket knife. He also instilled in me the love of crossword puzzles.
All our lives, we're told to be individuals and to be nonconformists. We should find our own path in life, blaze our own trails. Believe me, I'm all about that; I don't want to ever be accused of being a clone of anyone. Even so, there is a definite value in seeking and identifying those traits in others that we admire and then emulating them. Why do kids have posters of sports stars on their walls? They recognize greatness and want to imitate it. What we need to show them even more than physical prowess is exceptional character, intellectual curiosity and the ability to sustain healthy relationships with others. We parents learn (often the hard way) that kids watch everything we do. More often than we'd like them to, they imitate us. Maybe we should keep that in mind during our everyday comings and goings, eh?
Granddad, if you're reading this - and I don't doubt that you are - I hope I'm someone you're proud of. I may not be just like you, but I saw the greatness in you and am trying my best to be the kind of man that you were. I hope I'm doing okay so far.
But just for the record, Granddad, I'm absolutely rocking the crosswords.