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25 Life Lessons We Learned from Our Grandparents

Tina Gunn
By Tina GunnSeptember 5, 2014
25 Life Lessons We Learned from Our Grandparents

Sunday marks Grandparent’s Day and we honor grandparents everywhere by sharing our own stories of our most grand family members.

Generations United encourages us all to “Do Something Grand” not just on Grandparent’s Day, but all through the year. We at A Place for Mom have answered that call to action by sharing with our readers the valuable, inspirational, heartfelt and sometimes, humorous life lessons we’ve learned from our own grandparents.

Words from the Wise

The following is a compilation of words of wisdom and photos from yours truly at A Place for Mom:

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1. Minnie, Grandmother of Bev S., Senior Living Advisor

“Happiness is not found, it’s created.”

2. Jerry and Irene, Grandparents of Scott S., Regional Manager

Jerry and Irene, Grandparents of Scott

“If you are going to do something, do it right.”

3. George, Grandfather of Catherine L., Senior Living Advisor

“Always to do the right thing, work hard and do your best.”

Catherine shares, “Even when we were very young, he was teaching us to live a life of quality. George was a gun-toting Stevedore on the New York City docks…he was my best friend, making up games and songs for us, and was a man who never tired of his grandchildren…he was a man who never wasted anything and you would often see him pick up crumbs from the kitchen table to give to the birds. He was a great guy who I will never forget.”

4. Mary, Grandmother of Kathleen G., Reconnection Coordinator

Mary, Grandmother of Kathleen

“You do what is right, no matter what, but don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Kathleen shares, “She always found a reason to laugh, and was a nurse and longtime activist in Portland, Oregon.”

5. Beatrice, Grandmother of Barbara F., Senior Living Advisor

“Be good to yourself by valuing yourself.”

Barbara shares, “Her friends called her “Anna” and whom we affectionately called “Nana,” [and she] succumbed to her long struggle with Alzheimer’s many years ago. To this day, I still hear her words and they have guided and strengthened me through the good and not-so-good times.”

6. Howard, Grandfather of Angel R., Business Development Specialist

Howard, Grandfather of Angel

“Always laugh and have fun in everything you do.”

Angel shares, “He never actually said this — he lived it every day. He was always laughing, playing practical jokes and just having fun. He taught me to always try my best and enjoy life.”

7. Wylia, Grandmother of Angel R., Business Development Specialist

Wylia, Grandmother of Angel

“No knowledge is ever wasted.”

Angel shares, “No matter what caught my curiosity — be it learning about astronomy, history or teaching myself to do needlepoint, she encouraged learning and usually provided the books.”

8. John, Grandfather of Leanna G., Vendor Supervisor

“Make sure you sit down at the dinner table as a family every night and share a meal.”

Leanna shares, “My grandfather really instilled the importance and value of family, caring and sacrificing one’s self for the benefit of others. The most important lessons he taught us was through how he conducted himself as a man. He showed his family that if you believe in yourself, put in the work, you can truly be and do whatever you set your mind to!”

9. Margaret, Grandmother of Glenda J., Community Relations Advisor

“Do a good job.”

Glenda shares, “When my grandmother was close to death and we were saying good-bye to each other, and as I was heading off for an important assignment, [these] were her parting words of wisdom. She could barely talk, but wanted to impart that wisdom to her granddaughter. Those words have stayed with me all my life, helping me to think about all she had to overcome and how her example of dedication and hard work resulted in good things despite difficult circumstances.”

10. Zaide, Grandfather of Dovid G., Senior Living Advisor

Zaide, Grandfather of Dovid

“Actions speak louder than words.”

Dovid shares, “My grandpa was not a man of words [but] he followed the [above] philosophy. His dedication to family was powerful. Back in the 1930s, life in Cincinnati was tough and money was hard to come by. But Zaide walked to and from work each day, just to save a nickel on trolley fair. He saved each nickel until he could afford to buy a badminton set for his boy’s recreation. The boys cherished that set and share with the neighbors but never forgot the lesson of self-sacrifice for your kids.”

11. Marion, Grandmother of Marion D., Senior Living Advisor

“Say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you.’ Respect another person, no matter who that person is or what they are doing by NEVER saying ‘Shut-Up.'”

Marion shares, “My Ga-Ga was the nicest person I have ever known: kind, helpful, generous, respectful, funny, intuitive, grateful, warm and cuddly, happy, creative, always learning, resourceful, loving and forgiving. She is the best friend who I carry in my heart every day…and I was also named after her.”

12. Arnold and Louise, Grandparents of Ellen B., Community Relations Advisor

Arnold and Louise, Grandparents of Ellen

“Things always have a way of working out, sometimes you have to work hard, but just try and you’ll be surprised at what happens.”

13. Lillian, Grandmother of Tracey F., Director of Public Relations and Communications

“Don’t be the last one to leave the party.  Always leave ’em wishing you were there.”

Tracey shares, “When I was in college, [this is what] my grandmother told me. Loved that woman!”

Life Lessons Become a Family Heirloom

Our final lessons come from a man who came to the U.S. from Poland through Ellis Island, in Upper New York Bay. His name is Frank, and he is the grandfather-in-law of Marika F., Director of Content and SEO. In 1979, Frank didn’t just impart his wisdom on his two grandsons, Joel and Danny, but hand-wrote an entire book with chapters.

The following are excerpts from each chapter, lessons that continue to be valuable today and beyond:

14. Lesson One: Speech and Conversation

“Think before you talk.”

“Speak clearly and loud enough so the other person will understand what you are saying.”

Frank's Lessons One and Two

15. Lesson Two: Playing

“Never fool around unless you’re on the ground.”

“Never do anything that may injure anyone.”

16. Lesson Three: Money

“Only a fool spends all the money he earns or receives.”

“It is terrible to be broke. Nobody spent your money, but you.”

17. Lesson Four: Honesty

“Honesty in life means honesty to yourself, others, in business, in games [and] in competition.”

“Being true to yourself and others will never hurt your character. And you will be more respected through your life.”

18. Lesson Five: Education

“Respect your teachers, they are trying to teach you.”

“As you get older, make up your mind what you would care to be in your future life, and pursue it.”

Frank's Lesson Six

19. Lesson Six: Warmth to Others

“Eliminate coldness from your life. And if you don’t, people will be cold to you.”

“Do you want to be liked? Be warm and friendly.”

20. Lesson Seven: Responsibility

“Keep your promise [and] be a capable person.”

“Your shoulders will become larger when you become a responsible person.”

21. Lesson Eight: Other Homes and Possessions

“No horsing around (breakage and damage).”

“You are a guest and conduct yourself as one.”

22. Lesson Nine: Obedience and Respect

“Execute a request immediately. You may forget if you delay.”

“Obedience and respect eliminates laziness and scolding.”

Frank's Lesson Nine

23. Lesson Ten: Be Attentive and Listen

“Be attentive…when someone talks to you…look them straight in the eye.”

“Listen good and repetition won’t be necessary.”

24. Lesson Eleven: Waste

“Improper training [is a waste]. Parents to teach children or children to teach parents.”

“Clothing…buy to use and wear.”

25. Lesson Twelve: Neatness and Cleanliness

“Clothing does not belong on the floors. Floors carry dust and dirt.”

“When you leave home, [be] neat, clean and fresh looking.”

What life lessons have your grandparent(s) imparted upon you? Please share them in the comments below.

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Tina Gunn
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Tina Gunn

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