My Grandpa Taught Me How to Tell a Story

My Grandpa Taught Me How to Tell a Story | Positively Smitten

My Grandpa Taught Me How to Tell a Story | Positively Smitten

My grandpa is a superhero. Not the kind of superhero who wears a cape and has an alter ego and fights crime — although he was at one time an incredible cop AND detective AND he was in the navy, so he certainly did his fair share of crime-fighting. But he’s a superhero in every other way.

I think I’ve always kind of known that. As a kid, he seemed a bit like a walking Encyclopedia. If I fell down and got hurt, he was Dr. Grandpa. If I lost something I loved, he was Detective Grandpa. If I needed help with homework, he was Professor Grandpa. He was constantly morphing to embody whichever role his grandchildren needed at that very moment.

Me, my brother, and my grandparents

Me, my brother, and my grandparents

It was my grandpa who first took me fishing, where he showed me how to wrangle a worm onto the hook. (When I was really grossed out, he let me use fake bait instead.) It was my grandpa who encouraged me to pursue drawing and introduced me to his relative who was interested in art to have her take a look at my work. It was my grandpa who told me I could do anything in the entire world if I put my mind to it, and if anyone told me otherwise, he’d march down there and give him a piece of his mind. And maybe a piece of his fist, too.

It was also my grandpa who was probably the first person to really inspire me to want to tell stories. Anyone who knows Grandpa — or Hank, if you prefer — will tell you three things about him.

1.) He’s got a heart of gold. Ever heard that phrase, “he’d give you the shirt off his back”? That phrase was totally invented to embody Grandpa’s spirit.

2. He’s not afraid to speak his mind. Sometimes it’s in the form of a joke. Sometimes it’s in a strongly-worded, politically-driven letter. Or sometimes it’s at a local town meeting, which is being filmed, and will air on local television. Seriously, don’t mess with him.

3. He’s a storyteller. He’s got stories that would make even the most prolific writers seethe with jealousy. And they’re all true.

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Grandpa celebrating his 70th birthday last year

Grandpa’s ability to have this seemingly never-ending amount of intriguing stories — as well as his ability to to transform into whatever anyone needed at any given moment — stemmed from the fact that he had done, experienced, and learned essentially everything. He’s been a cop and a detective and a chef and a gas station owner and a small business owner; in his spare time, he’s taught himself about law and medicine and politics and cars and technology and how to fix just about anything. It’s no wonder he’s got plenty of stories to tell.

And Grandpa can charm a crowd with them. His tales could warm even the coldest of hearts.

While his kindness, his strength, his courage, his perseverance, and his thoughtfulness are all things I admire, and all things that have helped shape who I am today, it’s his stories, and the way he makes you feel like he’s giving a little part of himself to you, the way it feels like you’re re-living that moment right alongside him, that have perhaps impacted me most. I don’t know when he’s found the time to experience all of these things, let alone share them all with us (not when he’s been so busy being a doctor/professor/lawyer/scientist), but he has.

It’s almost like he’s a superhero.

Mostly because he is.

8 Comments

  1. I can just picture you growing up over the years and following your grandfather around and asking him questions. What a great vision, and great article. I have a special relationship with my grandfather – all my grandparents actually – so I can appreciate this.

  2. This brought tears to my eyes. I love you!

  3. bill & Bev Cunningham April 11, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Crystal, such a beautiful tribute to such a wonderful man. You will always have these memories of him. You are who you are today in large part because of him. We love you!

  4. Claire Syskowski April 11, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Grandpa will always cherish this article. He knows it’s coming directly from the heart. I’m glad that he was an inspiration to you. Grandpa lives for his grandchildren. We are both very fortunate to have them in our lives.

  5. I’ve always enjoyed reading your grandfathers articles in the newspapers. I can see who you take after. You had a great teacher. I know he will cherish this article as much as he cherishes you.

  6. your writing skills are phenomonel, you caputured by complete attention. (a hard thing to do). Your Grandfather is lucky to have such great kids and grandchildren that admire and respect as you displayed. good luck in your writing!!!
    aunt leona

  7. oops!! forgot to check my spelling (oh well) many years ago
    that was my best subject. guess i slipped. i am happy that i did get to see your articles. keep up the good work

  8. i was correcting my last post. i was impressed with your writing skills. you captured by complete attention. (not an easy thing to do). keep up the good work and i will continue
    to view your magazine.

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