On Being Unconventional, Part 3

My Grandpa was one of my favourite people, even before I can remember. My family still tells stories about how we were like two peas in a pod, even when I was a toddler. I was known as his favourite granddaughter, but I doubt any of my cousins felt slighted because he had plenty of love to go around. 

It never occurred to me that elders were anything but wise, because my Grandpa was one of the wisest beings I know. He was a great example of someone who’d had a lot of trials in life, but overcame them through perseverance and Self-study. Yes, he was a man from that generation on the leading edge who did his personal work! 

(The only problem this caused me was that I thought this was normal, lol!)

Here’s an example of how he moved in life: In his work as a heavy mechanic, he ended up butting heads with a difficult boss. This went on for a while, and the dynamic was in danger of becoming entrenched. Instead of playing a polarized role in the situation, he decided to think as many kind thoughts as he could toward this man. 

Expecting my Grandfather to be an adversary and still looking for a fight, his boss was completely confused by the resulting cheerfulness at first. Once he realized my Grandfather’s attitude was there to stay, they went on to have a productive relationship. 

My Aunt tells me that after my Grandma passed, one of the big challenges he experienced was that he still felt so much love but it had no place to go. He decided that the remedy for this state of affairs was to consciously love up all the other women in the family and spread it around! 

Things I learned from him:

  • Love generously and express it openly, especially when in doubt
  • If you see someone making a mistake, thinking well of them will keep you from making a similar one
  • It’s never too late to fall in love. He met his second partner in his late 70’s. Watching them together was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen! 
  • There’s no such thing as a trial that cannot be overcome, even though it may take time and effort
  • Spiritual pursuits are worthy investments and stand to become one’s biggest asset
  • He never preached, but taught by example

As his health declined in his last few years, the doctors told my family members to expect him to become difficult, possibly even violent, because of his condition. It never happened. My theory is that most people learn over time how to filter and ‘play nice,’ which goes out the window when their mind no longer has the strength to maintain that outer veneer. His manner was entirely genuine and his love had become unconditional. He often didn’t remember my name at that point and was in almost constant pain, but he never even swore in front of me, because it would have been rude to do that in the presence of a lady. 

Just before he passed, I finished writing a solo guitar piece. Even though it had taken months of picking it up and putting it down, it became clear to me that I had been writing it for him all along. Every time I play it, I think of him and feel gratitutde for his unforgettable presence in my life. Give it a listen, if you like.