Blog Post: What Granddaddy Taught Me

The past few days haven’t been my favorite, mainly because I found out my maternal grandfather doesn’t have much time left. He’s lived a long, full life, but he’s tired and deserves to rest. Sometimes, we just get a bug and never get better.

As a result, I’ve been talking a lot with family and thinking about the man. He worked most of his adult life for the electric company as an engineer, back when your company would throw you a party on the day you retired. He retired to the mountains of New Mexico, where I got to help him build his retirement home. He skied as long as his body would let him, and woke me up by sticking his cold hands on my back telling me to get up.

I was blessed to know him.

In the process of this pondering, I remembered some great lessons he got to be a part of teaching me. My father led these lessons, but sometimes grandparents hammer a point home in an effective way as well. Here’s a few:

Squeeze every bit out of every day. There is something to be said for living life with no regrets. If it means tackling a ski slope you have never done before, you might never get the opportunity again. When my mom was young, he was building a new home for them to live in. That meant he would work a full day, then come home to kiss his daughters then work until the sun went down. He traveled the world, smiling the whole way.

Many times, as he got older, it meant ensuring that every member of his family heard how much he loved and appreciated them. That is a my definition of no regrets. 

Money is meant to be spent, not hoarded. The negative connotation could mean that he never had much because he spent everything. The opposite was true. He worked very hard to build his nest egg, then had some smart people help him invest it to make it larger. As a result, he spent as much as he could on his family. For their 50th anniversary, he took all of us on a cruise. Halfway through the trip, he walked up to the grandkids and said, “You’re not spending enough, pick up the pace!”

There is something to be said for enjoying what we in this country are blessed with. It’s important to work and play hard. We can help out those less fortunate than us and enjoy life if we are intentional.

Words have power. I was one of those kids that felt he needed to make his own mistakes, so I made my fair share. Many of those times, I would call my grandparents for consolation. Granddaddy was very plain in his speaking to me: some of what happened I brought on myself, and I should not beat myself up for it. Just like my parents, he showed me grace and encouragement to get up and do better.

So often, it’s easy to focus on the mistake. As a young parent, I often am troubled by the mistake instead of focusing on the opportunity ahead. 

I have a million stories of this happening over three-plus decades. Lessons get harder to endure as you get older, but that never took away from the opportunity my family had to encourage, admonish and guide me with words. Something to keep in mind with everyone in our lives.

The lessons could go on, much like with my mother and father. I am a person blessed to have a head start in life because my family had the same. As a result, I got to know what lavish vacations and presents were. I know I’m a rarity in this world, and I am going to do my best to live humbly as a result. He’s not gone yet, but soon I am going to miss my granddaddy very much. 

David Railsback lived in a way to aspire to, and I’m glad I have the opportunity every day.


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