Sunday, November 10, 2013

My Great-Grandfather

I would like to take a brief moment to tell you about my great-grandfather. He lived from 1900-1991, and therefore I never had the privilege of meeting him, as he passed away when I was merely an infant. However, he is one of my biggest influences despite the fact that I never had the chance to get to know him. His perpetual memory lives on in our family, and he is the reason why being a Michigan sportsman, a Tigers fan, and a lover of Ford automobiles is embedded deeply within my DNA. He was my dad's maternal grandfather, and the vast majority of what I know about this great man came from my father. I do not remember how old I was when I first heard my great-grandfather's name -- which was John -- and first learned about the life he lived and the legacy he left. However, I do remember riding around with my dad on Saturday mornings, after a long school week, when I was 10 or 11, and being mesmerized by the stories my father would tell me about him as I sipped on my thermos of hot chocolate. These conversations with my father are my earliest recollections of when I began to grasp a sound understanding of the man my great-grandfather was.  

My father would speak of how my great-grandfather would go deer hunting in Michigan's Upper Peninsula every November before the bridge was built in 1954, and would therefore have to take the ferry and leave his vehicle behind. He spoke of how he would "rough it" up there for an entire week before coming back home. My dad also told me of how, in addition to being an avid deer hunter, my great-grandfather thoroughly enjoyed upland bird hunting, waterfowling, and fly-fishing. He spoke of how my great-grandfather was not only able to hunt for his own food, but he was also able to grow his own food, which was a skill that came in handy when food was in short supply during The Great Depression and again during WWII. He was an old-fashioned type of man, who could live and survive off of the land, without experiencing any trouble whatsoever. My dad frequently made mention of the fact that my great-grandfather never once ate fast food either, which I always thought to be an interesting tidbit about him.

My father would always tell me of how my great-grandfather was an exceptionally intelligent man with penmanship that was reminiscent of John Hancock's chirography on the Declaration of Independence in spite of the fact that he only had an eighth-grade education. He was self-educated man, who garnered his knowledge from reading and living, and he went to work full time at the tender age of 13. He was employed by his father, who owned a small general store, and he delivered groceries for his dad on a sleigh in the winter and on a wagon in the summertime.

My father told me of how my great-grandfather ultimately became an accomplished carpenter due to the tremendous work ethic which was forged in his youth. He was a meticulous perfectionist, and he would never walk away from a job until it was flawlessly completed. He always worked long, hard, and arduous hours, and when he and his buddies would reward themselves and go out for a drink on Saturdays, he would always wear a white shirt and a tie to the bar, as he took pride in how he appeared when he went out on the town.

Although my great-grandfather never made a lot of money, he always felt that he was rich because of the great relationships he had with his family and his friends. He would always be more than happy to help someone out with whatever he had in his wallet as well. Having a cup of coffee with a friend, or taking one of his grandchildren hunting or fishing, was always far more important to him than money ever was. He took pride in the few possessions he had, as everything he owned was of superior quality and American made, and he made sure he took exceptional care of everything he ever had the privilege of calling "his own." I have a few items that belonged to him, such as his compass and his match holder, and I will one day pass these priceless family heirlooms along to the next generation.

My great-grandfather lived through the first nine decades of the 20th century, and saw the world undergo a radical transformation. To name a few things, he saw the Wright Brothers spark beginning of aviation, he witnessed the preferred method of transportation go from a horse and buggy to automobile, and he saw a man walk on the moon in 1969. He also saw his Detroit Tigers win four World Series championships (1935, 1945, 1968, 1984). I have yet to see them win one.

Since it is nearly deer season, and my great-grandfather loved to hunt Michigan whitetails, I figured it would be a perfect time to write this story. Another reason I wanted to share my great-grandfather's story is because he was the embodiment of everything I am trying to accomplish with The Way of the Alpha Male, as he was the epitome of my vision of what a man should be. He was a selfless man who believed in helping others, and being the best you can be. He came from the era when everyone helped each other out, where one would treat their neighbors like family, and when it was truly important for a man to have character and class.

Please feel free to comment on this story, and leave your thoughts and comments as always. Thank you all very much for reading.

Till next time,