What I’m Learning: Grandpa’s Words

At my grandfather’s celebration of life last weekend my dad, who emceed the event, opened the mic and invited friends and family to share their stories.

One person I’d become particularly fascinated with in the last seven months (I first met him in October), was my grandpa’s brother Gerald, who took the mic first.

Just 15 months younger, Gerald shared several stories and “Norman nuances” he had experienced throughout their childhood. Stories I had never heard before.


One particular anecdote revealed the inherent character strength in grandpa’s personality – his feistyness.

The bolder (and mouthier) of the two, he apparently decided to take a break from getting into “disagreements” just long enough one day to hand over a pearl of wisdom. He told Gerald, “don’t walk into the bar like you own the place. Walk into the bar like you don’t care who owns the place.”

Whether the words resonated with anyone else, I don’t know. But, I can see that his feistyness has trickled down into several of us – his children and his grandchildren. Some more than others. Me, a lot.

To walk into a new space and act like you own it completely disregards the rules set, and disrespects those who came before you. And frankly, it isn’t very smart. Or kind.

To walk into a new space and not care who owns it, is significantly different. Survey the landscape, take it in and give respect where warranted. Evaluate the precedence and then decide if you want to play by those rules, or not. Don’t let the actions of seniority dictate who you should be or what you should do.

I may never have been articulate enough to say it quite as elegantly, but I felt it. Something clicked and the timing for this “pearl” to be repeated could never have been better. I’m on the verge of coming into my own and I’ve started living what grandpa had advised decades ago. Hearing it on Sunday only made me bolder.

Thank you, grandpa for saying what I didn’t know how to make sense of.

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