As a kid, some of my most vivid memories are from the times I would hang out with my grandfathers. Listening to stories of their own lives, visiting historical sites, or just going fishing, are some of the things that we would do.
What sticks out the most, are the times when we would talk together. They would recount tales of how things used to be and how they lived. They were both born before World War 2 and came from a world different from the way things are now.
One of my grandfather’s actually fought in the war. Drafted as a young kid of only 18 years old, his entrance into adulthood was spent fighting the enemy. Every day was a matter of life and death for him. Every day he had to struggle to survive.
His stories filled me with wonder and admiration. At that time, war for me was something romantic and I too wanted to relive those “glorious” times.
Only when I entered the same age that my grandfather spent fighting, did I realize the magnitude of what he had to go through. In my late teens and early 20s, I was still just a kid, who knew nothing about the real world. I was still growing up, exploring what I want to do. I lived on my own, but no way could I survive on my own.
Yet my grandfather too was that age once. However instead of finishing school and entering university, he was given a gun (he changed units a few times at the beginning, but finally for most of the war, he was an anti-aircraft gunner) and told to fight. His entering into adulthood experience was one of not knowing whether he was going to live to see another day. All around him, his comrades in arms were falling and the world was in chaos.
How different that was from my own times. My entrance into adulthood was one of sleeping in class and going to the gym. For many others, it is one of partying and getting drunk. People do not realize how easy we have it and how lucky we are. Rarely do we get to learn the values that really matter.
My grandfather’s introduction into life was full of struggle and death, and it taught him how to live. It taught him to have a healthy outlook on life, to enjoy every day and be thankful for what you have, yet always strive to do better.
The times I spent with my grandfathers were formative for me and taught me values that I still have and wisdom that I still turn back to. Unfortunately they have both passed away, but their lessons are still in my heart.
I remember the days, when I went with my grandfather out on walks and we would pass this old, rusty pullup bar on the side of the path. My grandfather was a health fanatic and every morning he would start with a cold shower and a long workout.
He taught me the lessons of trying to get stronger and always trying to do better. Every time we would pass this pull up bar, I would get on it and try to do as many pullups as I could. I would try to impress my grandfather by every time trying to do more pullups than the previous time. I would always go all out. He would encourage me and always show me new ways of getting stronger.
With my other grandfather, we would spend long hours talking about history and nature. He was a very curious guy and would always be trying to construct something out of nothing. He could always find something someone would consider junk and put it to good use.
I remember one day, we were walking into town and he came across something lying on the side of the road. I don’t remember what it was, but I remember him picking it up and examining it. He looked at it and said that this could be useful for this and this. Then he put it down and we continued on our way.
In the town we did what we came there to do and we turned around and went back the same way we came in. On the way back we were passing the object. My grandfather stooped down, picked it up and took it along with him back home. There he put it to good use. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
These are some of the lessons that stick with me. Their enormous thirst for knowledge and bettering themselves, their ingeniousness and creativity have inspired my own life. They lived a simple life, but one where they were always looking for opportunity. They lived in a world different from mine, yet their wisdom and kindness has taught me how to live even in this one.
We can always take lessons from the old times and apply them to the new. Share this article, if your grandfathers inspired you and made you who you are today! 🙂