Last Friday I posted my gratitude list for the month, and I included my Grandpa Ed, who will be 96 in September. There was unanimous love for grandpa in my comments, so today I'd like to share a few of the things I've learned from him. You can't make it to his age without some great words of wisdom, right? Like I said on Friday, I want to be just like him when I grow up.
Family is important.
Grandpa Ed and Grandma Mary had four children. When my mom was eight, grandpa was offered a job that required him to travel around the United States, staying in each town for several months at a time. He didn't want to leave his wife and kids behind, but he needed the job. So they sold their house, bought a 20 foot trailer, and took off as a family. I can't imagine living in a trailer that size with six people, traveling the country, for seven years. I'm pretty sure I'd be heading back home after a few weeks. But that's what they did. And they never regretted it, because they were together.
From those four kids, grandpa has eleven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren, and we all love him madly. He makes time for each and every one of us, because family is important.
Did I mention Grandpa Ed is 96? He still lives in his own home, drives, and his mind is as sharp as ever. Every week he golfs 18 holes, and only in the last year has he used a golf cart because his hips hurt. He walks around the block every day, and he's been known to pull his bike out when his car is in the shop. When I asked if he wore a helmet, he just giggled. Guess what he's getting for his birthday! He says staying active has kept him alive this long, and I'm not going to argue with him. It's part of why I exercise every day.
The simple things in life are usually the best things.
Last year my boys wanted to take grandpa to Pink's in downtown Los Angeles, because they are known for their fabulous hot dogs, and hot dogs are one of grandpa's favorite foods. He was a little dubious about Pink's, but being the trouper he is, he was willing to drive an hour and wait in line another thirty minutes to try a dog, because the boys said it was worth it. His verdict? The ones at Costco are just as good, half the price, and way less trouble. Sometimes the simple things in life are the best things.
A positive attitude helps you get through anything.
Grandpa Ed's life certainly hasn't been perfect, and he's had his share of health troubles. He's survived prostate cancer, kidney cancer, colon cancer and melanoma. Luckily everything was caught early when most treatable, but through every surgery and illness he maintains a positive attitude. He tells me there's no point in being depressed about it - what will be, will be. Except when my grandma died, I've never seen him sad - he just smiles and gets on with living.
Life doesn't end when you get older.
When he was 80, grandpa took up painting and drawing as a hobby, and he's pretty good at it. He set up an art studio in his formal living room when grandma passed (I'm sure she haunts him over this - we were never even allowed in that room). He goes to the senior center every week - always on the lookout for new friends. Not a day goes by that he doesn't get up at 7am, get dressed in his signature jeans and polo shirt, and head out of the house. Sure, there's an afternoon nap every day, but not until he's accomplished something.
My husband and I were talking about grandpa last weekend. He's pretty healthy, but he is almost 96. One of these days we're going to get that phone call, and it will be one of the saddest days of my life. I'm a much better human being because of the things I've learned from Grandpa Ed.