Another friend’s grandfather passed away today. Funny how in the digital age, you learn of the death of people you’ve never met only because one of their descendants is connected with you via a social network. Anyway, it naturally saddened me to see the update about his passing.
He was a grandfather…
His grandchild (my friend) wrote a short eulogy that really broke my heart. He talked about how his grandfather introduced him to knowledge, different languages (of which he has picked up quite a few himself now), games, and so much more… To think that the influence he may have had on my friend’s life was very measurable and profound wouldn’t be exaggerating too much.
What’s better is that influence seems to have been a very positive one. It’s sad to see him lose a loved one, but in the same breath, to think he had someone in his life that had such a good impact on his life is well, pleasant. Yet, at the same time, it’s tragic when I think about it more deeply.
I know so many people - myself included - who had a real dearth of positive adults in their life when they were growing up. I have a friend who was raised by a strict uncle. He didn’t even have his father around. He grew up in an environment where almost all influences - except his mother’s - were negative to the point where he had to simply give up one day and leave.
Nature was cruel when it came to providing him with people that would help him make sense of the world.
He did go on to find people that were positive; whose influences really helped him find some measure of hope and positivity in his own life. However, to imagine if he had all those people in his life when he was a child… To think if he had a grandpa or grandma or aunt or uncle who would’ve affected him when he needed positive affection, yet, didn’t get any breaks my heart even more.
And it makes me wonder… How often do we think of ourselves as such agents? How often do we think out loud, “Can I actually influence a child’s future by showing kindness, compassion, encouragement and maybe just a pat on the back?”
I can tell you from experience that it matters. It mattered to me when I was a kid when an adult showed me kindness. When one of my dad’s friends told me, “You’re so bright. I wish you’d read more books,” it made me realize reading books wasn’t a waste of time. Or a distant uncle who gave me some of his precious books and said, “I’ve read them already. You need them now.”
They made a difference to me. They, with others like them, had an influence on who I am, how I am and where I am. Maybe that’s how I should be - like them. Maybe, that’s how we should be. Every child needs adults who help them make sense of the world. A better world starts when an adult feels responsible enough to affect a child for the better - even if that kid never had a grandpa.