December 22, 2012

The Tea Party

The Power of a Daddy's Love

I heard an amusing story the other day, and thought that if told right, it would give you a glimpse into just how much children mean to their daddies. Biology may be able to make a man a father, but it is love that turns him into a daddy.

So please enjoy this little story about Mark, and the little girl he loves.

Mark and Amy were a typical young married couple, and when Katrina was born, their family became complete. Mark adored his Kitkat girl, and she was perfect in his eyes.

One Saturday morning, Amy had to do some shopping, and since Katrina was not quite four, she could be a handful. Mark jumped on the chance to play house-dad, and with Kitkat in his arms, they shooed Amy out the door ...

When Amy returned home that afternoon, she found Katrina sound asleep inside a makeshift tent in the middle of the frontroom, that had been created with the bedspread from their bed, strung up between the couch, the recliner and a kitchen chair.

Mark was sitting at the kitchen table, with a queasy look on his face, and tears standing in his eyes ..

"Honey, what's wrong?" The worry in Amy's eyes and the concern in her voice just seemed to make Mark hang his head in shame.

"Well, Kitkat and I had a lot of fun today," he said. "We watched cartoons, had a PB&J picnic in the back yard, and then we had a tea party."

"Sounds like it was fun," said Amy, with a growing curiosity. What had made Mark look so ill?

"It was. When we sat down at the coffee table, and she brought out her little tea set .. she called me Prince Daddy, and told me I was her Kite in Shyding Armor.
She then proceeded to fill our cups with water from her teapot. I sipped my 'tea' and told her a story about my magic adventures in Wonderland. When the tea was gone she jumped up and raced off, and returned with another teapot full.
It was only after the third cup that I realized I hadn't heard any water running, and it dawned on me that she's so little, there was only one place she could reach water anyway ..."

Amy could feel the laughter bubbling up inside her, but stopped herself from actually blurting it out. Mark looked as if he were in intense pain.

"God help me," Mark said, "but she served SIX rounds ..."

This story is one I made up, but the emotions are so very real. On the day I went from husband to daddy, my whole world changed, and so did my concept of love. My kids have always been a source of inspiration, pride and motivation in my life, and this message is for them.

Guys ... I'll drink your tea with you anytime, regardless of where it came from ...

From Grandpa's Heart ...

December 10, 2012

Swept Away!

Let's Take A Trip

One of the goals I had when I started this legacy of messages, was to also share some stories from my past. I know that my grandpa never told me much about his childhood, and I wish he had.

So follow me into the way-back machine. Buckle your seat-belt (oh wait, there aren't any), and hang on, as I share with you a true-life adventure of yesterday, and a tale of the boy I used to be  ... 

The Great Outdoors

When I was young, long before the days of the internet, cell phones or video games, we were forced to find ways to entertain ourselves. Color TV was only for those who could afford it, and there were only 3 network channels on our little black and white set. Besides, that  little video window on the world only truly held appeal on Saturday mornings (cartoons), right after school (Sesame Street), or at midnight on Friday (monster movies).

This means that when it wasn't raining, and I didn't have a good book to take me away, I spent a lot of time playing outside. We moved around quite a bit when I was young, but having a father with 8 brothers and sisters meant that whenever we lived close enough to one of them, there were always a lot of cousins to hang out with.

The Expedition

In the fall of 1969, I was five, and still looked about 3. I was always small for my age, but that didn't mean I was going to be left out. During one of our visits, two of my older cousins decided that they were going for a hike through the woods and fields near my aunt's house, in a little town called South Prairie, in Washington state. Mickey was 8, and was my buddy that autumn, and his older brother Bobby was about 13 .... which meant that he was one of those mysterious BIG kids known as teenagers.

As we went exploring through the trees, we came upon a roaring river. (Okay, it was actually just the South Prairie Creek). It had been raining for days previously and this normally quiet little stream was swollen and the churning water was racing, carrying twigs and debris along as it bullied its way to the Puyallup River, some 10 miles further downstream. In my little-guy's eyes, it could have been the Missisippi.

We Have To Cross

Bobby and his other teenage friend who had joined us, both headed right into the turbulence, and waded, with a little effort, through the water which came about halfway up their thighs. They kept on going, leaving Mickey and I to get across somehow. Mickey looked at the fast moving water, and then at how little I was, and told me he had an idea. He would just give me a shoulder ride, and we would wade across together, the water was no deeper than his waist after all, and I was light.

I remember being nervous, but since I couldn't swim, there was no way I was going to be able to get across the river, which was about 10 feet wide, but looked to me like it was a mile or more across. So in one of those moments of childish faith and adventure, I climbed up on his shoulders, and we set off ...


We actually made it about 6 steps across, and had almost reached the halfway point, when Mickey's foot slipped on a smooth rock, and we both went sprawling into the rushing, frothy water.To this day, I can feel the icy water enveloping me, tossing me this way and that, and tumbling me over and over. I remember trying to get my face out of the water, and gasping a huge lungful of dirty tasting air each time I was able to break the surface.

The swirling river carried me downstream for almost a half mile, scrambling for something to hold on to, before I finally saw a low hanging tree branch, brushing the surface of the water. I grabbed it with one hand, then wrapped my arms around it in a death hold ... and I waited. I prayed for someone, anyone, to come find me, but I wasn't really terrified. With the total faith of the very young, I knew that I would eventually get home, but it was a long, cold vigil, as the river flowed past me and through my clothes.


After minutes that seemed like days, I heard Mickey's voice, full of terror and worry, screaming my name. I was shivering so hard that I could only croak "Over Here!" in a voice that sounded way too quiet in my own ears. He emerged from the trees, dripping wet, with eyes as big as dinner plates, and ran to the branch where I clung, With a little work, he was able to climb out on the branch and haul me out of the water.

As we lay together in the grass, shivering and letting the adrenaline fade, I still remember him looking at me and saying "You're a lot heavier than you look ..." This of course made is both start laughing, and we got up and slogged our way out of the woods, about 2 miles from the house. We trudged along the road, and cut through a neighbor's  field, wondering if they had started a search party for us.

Home At Last

When we finally got to the house, fearing a scolding or worse, we found Bobby and his buddy on the porch, eating lunch. "Oh, there you guys are." ... No one even knew we were missing! After a change of clothes and some laughter about our adventure, Mickey and I got our lunch, and decided that next time we would just climb trees instead.

As a parent and grandparent, I'm glad that they never told our parents. I'm sure my mom and dad would have been frantic, had they known the truth. I had an angel on my shoulder that day, and amazingly I never developed a fear of the water, nor even had bad dreams afterward (though I remember that day very clearly). So remember, sometimes even when someone has you on their shoulders, they might slip and fall ... and even if you end up in fast moving water over your head, just look for that branch and hang on ...

From Grandpa's Heart ...

December 4, 2012

The Seasons Of Our Lives


A Very Special Message

A dear friend of mine, who I am proud to consider a brother in my heart, lost his mother last year to illness. During her life she wrote some amazing and wonderful bits of prose, but none more moving than the following essay. I am reprinting it here with permission of her family, and I hope you are all as deeply touched by it's truth and ephemeral beauty as I am.

The Seasons of Our Lives
by Launa Janousek.

     Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. In the spring, seeds can be planted in the rich earth that has been melted from its icy winter hardness into a receptive and fertile field. In the spring, we feel the surge of new life, the urge perhaps, to begin new projects and relationships, or to see the old ones in new light. After the long, dark, cold winter, we feel the hope and promise of warmer days, as the earth readies itself for the celebration of summer and the coming to fruition of all that has been carefully and lovingly sown.
    Summer is a time of ripening, of coming to fruition. All the energies of the universe now favor abundance. The days are long and warm, the nights rich with all the fragrances of the earth. The seed that was planted in the spring comes to term in the summer; the heat of the sun alternates with the softness of the rain to bring the earth to its apex of fulfillment. Summer is also the time of relaxation and appreciation; it is the traditional vacation season, when we put aside our duties and cares to make room for rest and rejuvenation. At the end of the summer, we taste the satisfaction of the fruits of our labors, as what we have put our energy and faith into can now be realized.

   Autumn is the season of harvest. As such, it is tinged with a bittersweet quality, for it involves both maturity and decline. Traditionally, harvest time is a  time of gathering of both crops and people, all come together in joy and goodwill to help one another pick the fruits of the earth and share in the bounty. But even as we rejoice in the gifts and beauty of fall, we are aware that the glorious colors of the changing leaves have already begun to fade. The dusk is coming sooner, the air growing colder. So autumn contains both joy and urgency as we harvest and we store, making the necessary preparations that will give us sustenance during the long winter nights ahead.
   Winter is the season of reflection and challenge. In the rhythm of natural cycles, it corresponds to that part of us that must conserve our resources, draw inwards, and allow ideas and situations to hibernate and awaken in their own time. Winter is a time of opposing forces that teach us beauty through harshness. The cold both chills and invigorates us. The snow and ice can be fierce in their fury or breathtaking in their pristine purity. The long hours of darkness make us yearn for the day, while appreciating the stillness of the night, the warmth of the evening fire. Through winter we learn the art of patience and the joy of discovering new inner strengths, as we wait for new growth to emerge.
   As human beings, we need to stop and look at the trees through the seasons of our lives. Trees are magical and spiritual symbols. The tree of life and the tree of knowledge are bridges between heaven and earth with the branches reaching high to the heavens and the roots traveling deep within the earth. Without trees, life on earth would be barren and uninhabitable. Trees filter our air; the roots secure the topsoil we grow our food in; we use trees to build our homes; trees to shade us from the hot sun and provide windbreaks; we burn trees for fuel to cook with and keep us warm, and many foods, medicines and countless other useful items that we take for granted come from trees. Do you remember, or have you ever noticed how you or other children are naturally drawn to play in or around trees?
   Trees have guardian spirits, and we can learn many things from sitting quietly near a tree and communicating with its energy. Find a tree that you enjoy, stand back so that it is in full view and take your eyes to the top of the tree, admiring the space where heaven meets earth. Then look at the details of the tree, the beauty of its branches, the strength of its roots. Trees can teach us about strength, dignity, peace and giving.
   There is a season for us all, for the time to go. Death comes not in terror but in gentleness, and always on time. Death is a part of the natural process and everything has its allotted time on earth.
   If you have faced the loss of someone dear to you, imagine this was or is that person's time to go. It is the right time, the perfect time. The best way to send your loved one on is to release them in peace and total trust to the expertise of the angels. Accept the timing of the universe in death as well as in life.

A Legacy Of Love 

Launa was a very amazing woman. Though I never got to meet her, she left a big impression on many people's lives, and her spirit lives on, not only in her written words, but in her family.  She passed along her sense of wonder and beauty, and helped to create one of the nicest, and most deeply caring men I have ever known ... Her son Jeff.

Jeff and his better-half, Sharmell, have been a vital and important part of my life, and the lives of my children and grandchildren for more years than I can count. They were both present when my youngest daughter was born, and have been uncle and aunt to my kids their whole lives. They have been beside us through the good times and the bad, and I feel blessed to count them as family ... I love you guys, and will owe you more than I could ever repay, as long as I live.

As I write this, in the autumn of my own life, I am looking at the tree outside my window with a new appreciation.  As I watch the raindrops fall from its moss covered branches, I feel as if a little bit of Launa is with me, and that the trees are crying for her passing as well. Thank you, sweet lady, for sharing your beautiful view of this trip we all make through the seasons of life.

<dedicated to Launa Janousek and her family>

This message for us all was reprinted here by permission and with love,

From Grandpa's Heart ...

November 11, 2012

Our Rainbow

Meet Mr. Drayce

As many of you know, in June of 2011, my grandson Eddy Maurice Smith III was called home to be with God after an amazing 13 weeks of joy, love and wonder.

On November 1st, 2012, his little brother, Drayce Henry Smith, arrived and he is our rainbow baby. Though he had to spend a few days in the hospital, Drayce is now at home with his Mommy and Daddy, and is enjoying the attention of his two big sisters, Breonna and Lexi, his older brother Zacchaius, and his guardian-angel big brother, Eddy.

What Is A Rainbow?

According to Wikipedia, a rainbow "is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection of light in water droplets in the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky" ... but I think it's time for them to add a new definition.

To those of us who have survived the devastating loss of an infant, the birth of another baby heralds the true meaning of the rainbow - a sign after the storm that beauty and love still exist, even in the presence of grief. A rainbow is a bridge that links the darkness that has passed, the glorious beauty that is the present,  and the wonder and joy that await us in a future full of brightness.

As a symbol of a divine promise, the rainbow is also a reminder that the terrible deluges that we may encounter along our journey are not the end of our lives. These beautiful works of God mark the change from tempest to calm, and from fear to hope. I firmly believe that the angels may cry for us during the rain, but they sing with joy and love when the rainbows appear.

A Familiar Smile

On the day that Drayce got to go home, his little face lit up with so much joy and happiness, that I feel certain Eddy was there with him, and was spreading his love, happiness and protection on this adored new addition to our family. I'm not sure just what special thoughts they were sharing, but I can see so much of Eddy's infectious grin in this picture of Drayce's first big smile, that I know it had to have been a very happy one.

As he grows, Mr. Drayce will always have the special distinction of knowing that not only is he loved as much as any child ever has been, but he also has a little extra protection from a very special big brother, and that like a rainbow, he is beautiful.

I will leave you for today with this simple statement: 
May your lives be filled with as much laughter and joy as you can find, and when the storms hit (and they will), may you find solace and comfort in the inevitable rainbows which follow.  

This hope-filled wish comes, as always,

From Grandpa's Heart ...

October 24, 2012

Happy Halloween!

My Favorite Holiday

Lots of folks might think that Christmas, New Years or Easter are the best holidays, but not me. See, my birthday falls 3 days before Halloween, and so our annual American institution of dressing up in costumes and sharing sweets with the children has always been my favorite. 

All Hallow's Eve may have started out as a pagan ritual, but it has become something completely different and unique now, and while it isn't an official holiday, I think it should be.

For most of us, our love of Halloween doesn't have anything to do with religious beliefs, but has everything to do with getting to play dress up, indulging in safe fears, and of course, gratifying our childhood dreams of amassing large quantities of candy.

Ready, Set, Boo!

For me, this day marks the true beginning of the holiday season, so it's time to pull out an oldie-but-a-goodie. Over 30 years ago, when I was still a young man, I was feeling rather poetic as Halloween approached. Suffering from insomnia one night, I turned my hand for the first time to creating my own version of a literary classic. I was curious about combining Halloween and Christmas, and an idea was born.

Sadly, the original poem is long gone, unless someone else still has a copy. I handed out a number of hard copies to friends and family, so there may be one out there somewhere. Luckily, I have a mind like a steel trap, and it's only a little bit rusty. I still remember almost all of the poem, and in honor of Clement Moore and his masterpiece from 1823, I present the following updated story in verse, based on A Visit From St. Nick ...  

The Ballad of Dracu Claus

'Twas the night before Christmas
     And all through the castle,
Not a creature was stirring
     Or making a hassle.

The skeletons were hung

     In their caskets just right,
And even old Igor
     Was chained for the night.

The dungeon was quiet,

     The pendulum still;
The werewolf was sleeping,
     Having eaten his fill.

Wrapped in soft cobwebs

     And my slippers of lead,
I lay down with my shroud on,
     To sleep as the dead.

Then, from the graveyard,

     Across the deep moat,
I heard evil laughter
     From some sinister throat.

I rolled from my slab,

     But my knees felt like jelly;
The vile sound curdled
     The food in my belly.

I rushed to the window

     To find the fell cause,
But the sight that awaited me
     Struck me with awe.

The moon through the mist,

     Cast a sick greenish glow,
And I sighed for a moment,
     At the beauty below.

I spied moving toward me

     An old rusty sled,
Pulled by eight dragons,
     Five green and three red.

The driver's long fingers

     Appeared bony and brittle,
He cracked his long whip
     And I peed, just a little.

His skin was so pale,

     He was all dressed in black,
I knew in an instant
     It must be Count Drac.

He gave a sharp whistle,

     That master of pain,
Then the beasts became airborne,
     And he cursed them by name ...

"Now Smasher, and Crasher,

     And Charcoal and Grill,
On Muncher and Cruncher,
     And Raunchy ... and Bill!"

"Away to the rooftop!

     You know what to do,
And don't overshoot it,
     Or I'll have dragon stew!"

Then the monsters they landed,

     Their great wings all a-flutter,
Punched holes in my roof,
     And tore off the gutter.

He flew down the chimney,

     And he stood in the coals,
As ribbons of foot stench
     Issued forth from his soles.

Half-eaten in his hand,

     Was the thigh of an elf,
And I screamed when I saw him
     In spite of myself.

His fangs were so sharp,

     And the bloodstains so red;
He hissed once when he saw me,
     Then dismissed me, instead.

He pulled out a sack

     And as quick as a sneeze,
He stole all the stockings,
     Without saying please.

He took all the presents

     From our moldy old tree,
And the tinsel and garland,
     Of hair and string cheese.

He went into the kitchen

     Carelessly killing a drudge;
There he emptied the fridge
     (He even took all the fudge!)

He returned to the fireplace,

     And with a flourish of his cape,
Brought his wrist to his nose
     And made good his escape.

And I heard him exclaim,

     As he flew to his feast -
"Merry Christmas to all,
     And to all, Rest In Peace!"

(c) 2012 Dusty Grein

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Halloween this year, and don't be afraid to bring me back some candy ... I don't get to go trick-or-treating any more, but I've still got a sweet tooth. If you get too scared, you can always just stop by for some laughter and love,

From Grandpa's Heart ...

October 21, 2012

The Power Of Make-Believe

Let's Say I  Was ...

Remember when you were little? With very little effort, you could pretend you were anyone, and you could do anything. From playing 'house' to adventuring through the jungle, all it took was an idea, and a sense of wonder. Even if you were all alone, you could pretend to be an entire group of different people, and they could interact within your imagination.

When we first become aware of the world around us, it is a place of wonder, mystery and endless possibilities. If we are fortunate enough to grow in a home filled with love and support, we soon develop a curiosity about all the things that we don't know yet, and a desire to experience our dreams. As we grow, we discover that we have within us the power to create any world we want to play in, and within our world, we can be anything or anyone we wish.

I can still remember being on board the U.S.S. Enterprise, and having to crawl along in the jeffries tube on my way to the engine room, as the Klingon Bird-Of-Prey was attacking. Okay, so I was just a child who watched Star Trek too much, playing under the kitchen chairs, but in my mind, I was a proud member of Star Fleet ... unless I decided to be a Romulan spy. The point is, it was MY world, and I had fun playing in it.

The Keys That Unlock Our Imagination

There's a simple reason that little kids love to play with toys. They give them a way to make their make-believe world real enough to touch. With a baby doll, a child who is pretending to be a parent has something tangible to hold, to touch and to love. With a truck in hand, a little one can not only pretend they are driving around, they can make tracks in the dirt that prove their world is really just a hidden part of ours.

Telling stories offers us another way to share our imagination with the world. Those of us lucky enough to have been read to at a very young age, know full well that a good story comes alive in our minds, and with children may just come alive the next day as well, while they play.

When children first start to socialize with others, they can unlock a magical world where they actually share an imaginary universe. With the exception of love, there is no force stronger than that of two children who have created a world of pure make-believe. Their dreams, hopes, and even fears, become real, and these special worlds of wonder will forever be a part of them, even after they forget to remember them.

Growing Up

Sadly, somewhere between the ages of 8 and 12, we learn to stifle our imaginations. Society is partly to blame for this ... we find a 7 year old playing dress up to be cute, but if a 14 year old does it, we assume they are trying to grow up too fast. And if an adult does it, it better be Halloween, or  we call the men with the white coats.

In truth, we do have to put aside some of our fantasies to become healthy and responsible adults. Learning to separate our make-believe worlds from reality is part of growing up, and the inability to do this can become a form of mental illness. Unfortunately, we all still have a need to play, and some people completely lose their ability to pretend. True artists, from painters to authors, retain this ability, and use it to their advantage. Others satisfy this basic human need in a number of ways, from books to video games, and from sports to drugs. In the end, they are all just ways to escape into the world of our imaginations once again, and rediscover our lost sense of wonder.

The world will always be a special and magical place to children. The ability to play make-believe is a gift that we are all born with, and one that every child should have the opportunity to experience for as long as possible. So the next time you have the chance to have tea with a child, or become the moat monster at the local playground, jump in with your whole heart. Maybe you'll discover that your imagination still works, and that child still lives inside you.

Consider this a special invitation to learn how to play again, delivered to you all ...

From Grandpa's Heart ...

October 15, 2012

The White Wolf

Unexpected Inspiration

Sometimes, the inspiration for my posts comes from unexpected places. Today, a young lady I know who normally just posts single sentences as her status, shared a story. While it isn't the first time I've heard this story, it struck me that it needs to be shared.

This is an old legend, but is still worth telling again, for any who haven't heard it. The origins of the tale are now lost in the mists of time, but the message is till as fresh as the day it was first heard. 

Here is my version ...

An aging Cherokee warrior gathered his grandchildren together. His life had taught him many things, and today he would share with them one of the most important lessons he knew. The youngsters sat in a semi-circle around him, and he patiently waited until they were quiet.

"A fight is going on inside me right now," he began. "It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. A Black wolf, and a White wolf.

"The Black wolf is evil. He is hate, anger, regret, greed, arrogance, doubt, guilt, envy, lies and grief.

"The White wolf, though, is good. He is love, peace, hope, generosity, humility, faith, trust, compassion, truth and nostalgia.

"This same battle is going on inside each of you. Indeed, it is happening inside every person you will ever meet." 

The children sat in silence and considered their grandfather's words. A few minutes later, one young boy looked up, eyes filled with curiosity, and asked "Grandfather ... Which of these wolves will win?" 

The old Cherokee grinned, with a gleam in his eye, for he had been waiting for this question. "The winner," he replied, "will be the wolf that you choose to feed."

A Never-Ending Struggle

We all have this dual-nature, and it's true that this battle occurs in all of us. Keep in mind that you can always decide which wolf you will feed, and only you control the outcome of this battle.

The Black wolf is always hungry and will eat any scraps he can, but I have found that the White wolf grows stronger with every bite you feed him.

My wish for you all, is that your White wolf may thrive, and comes

From Grandpa's Heart ...

October 10, 2012

Dampa Wuv's Yew

Speech Impediments

When my wife was little she had trouble, like a lot of kids, making some sounds. For her, the elusive letter R was the worst, and up until 4th or 5th grade, she was a 'Wascally Wabbit' kid. She was given speech classes and finally learned to make that special sound though, and it never had any impact on her reading or spelling abilities (although to this day, Grandma can't roll her R's and so some Spanish words are beyond her.)

Our second oldest granddaughter, Lexi, has always had some difficulty getting her mouth to make certain sounds. She has one of the oldest souls among my branches of our family tree, and her inability to make herself understood by some people has often made her quite frustrated.

Grandpa The Translator

As she grew throughout her preschool years, it seemed that for some reason, I understood Lexi-ese better than most, and was often called to translate for others. Somehow I knew that 'Mawn, peets' would only be satisfied with a glass of cold milk, and a 'boo-day poddy' was a cause for celebration. The times that even I would scratch my head in consternation when trying to decipher her words were thankfully few, because when even Dampa couldn't get it, it sometimes brought her to tears.

This year, she is in first grade, and since she still has some trouble being understood by teachers (bad) and other kids (even worse), they had her tested for speech classes. Thankfully, she qualified for free therapy, since my daughter works hard, but is far from rich. She will receive up to two years of speech lessons, from someone trained to help her recreate the sounds that make up our language.

Test Scores

One of the worst things about having speech troubles is the standardized testing that her school does in first grade. Because the reading scores are based on sounds, she was scoring extremely low. Now, thanks to a caring teacher and her speech classes, she will stop being judged on her ability to form difficult sounds with her mouth. She is an awesome little reader already, and it's not right to punish her for a minor lacking in this purely physical motor skill.

Children in school can be cruel sometimes, and even when it's not intentional, teasing hurts. So do assumptions made by people about a child's intelligence, motivation and skill, based on their ability to fluently and clearly communicate their ideas, thoughts and desires. Having a child (or grandchild) with a speech impediment is not the result of their being lazy, stupid or mentally challenged in any way. Often, even well-meaning friends and relatives can make careless, hurtful remarks that can lead to even worse frustration and pain for a child who already is having trouble being understood.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Like any other skill, making sounds can be learned, with lots of encouragement, love and practice. This summer, Lexi and I practiced making silly sounds together, and she did make some improvements. I think it is awesome that now she is getting help from a professional therapist.

Soon, she'll be enunciating like a pro, and will leave behind the days of frustration at not being able to make herself understood. We all know that it won't put and end to life's challenges, but it will make it easier for her to express her ideas and desires, and share her fears and joy with others.

I just hope that as she makes this journey to better speech skills, she keeps in mind that to her Dampa, she'll always be a 'boo-da-foo wi-dew pin-dess', and along with all of my grandchildren, will always have an enduring and selfless love that comes straight

From Grandpa's Heart ...

October 3, 2012

Glass Houses

You Be The Judge

Most of us are aware of the expression "Judge not, lest ye be judged." While this is an admirable goal, I think it's not very realistic.

We all make judgements every day, about everyone and everything in our lives. It's part of what makes us human, and allows us to make the decisions in life that are important, but it can also be very detrimental to our relationships and success.

In order to decide on any course of action we must have an internal dialog and we must make a judgement call, based on our experiences and our goals. These judgements will decide our words, our actions, and inevitably, the course of our lives.

The Better Part of Valor

Here is where discretion plays such a vital role in the amount of happiness we have, and the amount we share with the world. We all have an 'inner voice' that makes snap judgements and tends to influence our decisions and actions. We gain maturity when we realize that not everyone needs to hear that voice, and true wisdom comes once we stop letting that inner voice make our decisions for us. We all respond to a tap below the kneecap with a reflexive jerk, but we can control the impulses that we feel to respond immediately to our initial judgements of people and their opinions.

In a way, I think that our egos sometimes really get in the way of making good decisions. Usually this is because that 'inner voice' is in control, and if we question it, or hold it in, we feel like we are not being true to ourselves. Sometimes, though, all it takes is a moment of introspection and evaluation to prevent us from suffering the dreaded foot-in-mouth disease that accompanies rash words and snap judgements.

None Of Us Are Perfect

As far as I can tell, there's only ever been one perfect human, and he died on a cross a couple thousand years ago. We all have our problems, our flaws and our issues. As a society, we have a need for judges, to decide on matters of public interest and to settle disputes under our legal system, but on a personal level, I think we have a bigger need for understanding and compassion, than we do for judgement and retribution.

When you meet someone, or hear an opinion on a subject you care about, stop and really think before you comment or create a lasting impression in your mind. Everyone you meet is both good and bad, beautiful and ugly, and capable of both cruelty and love. We are all human, so try and respect our differences. On that final day that you must be judged for your life, the fewer rocks you have thrown, the better. I know there's far too much glass in my house, and I bet you have more than enough in yours too.

Just a little bit of advice,

From Grandpa's Heart ...

September 30, 2012

If Only ...

Hindsight is 20/20

As we travel along the road of life, we all make mistakes, and wish we had done some things differently. All too often, we end up wishing we had made different choices, or spent our time doing something else. The simple truth is that being human, we will err ... and then we have a choice to make. We can either beat ourselves up with regret and sorrow, or we can learn from our experiences, and move on to become better people.

As I look back on my life, I realize that I have made some huge mistakes, and disappointed a lot of others along the way. But instead of feeling self-pity, I have always tried to choose the path of contrition, apology and acceptance. I usually try hard to learn from the bad things, and while I haven't always been successful, I generally avoid making the same mistake twice.

Ten Things You Will Never Regret

I have put together a list here of ten little things in life that you will never look back on with sorrow, anxiety or self-recrimination. Some of them may seem silly at first, but at the end of the day, you will never be sorry that you did any of them, or feel that they were a waste of your time.

  1. Smiling at everyone you see. Even if your day isn't the greatest, you can literally make it better by simply smiling. Attitudes are contagious, and if you express a positive outlook through your face, others will be uplifted as well.

  2. Reading to a child. There is no better way to build into children a love of reading than sharing a book with them. Whether it's at bedtime or in the afternoon, you can magically transport them to a world of imagination, and you get to go along for the ride for free.

  3. Helping a stranger. You may have given the girl in the parking lot a jump-start or held the door open for the old guy with the walker. Maybe you helped the young man who was lost by giving him directions, or the girl-scouts whose cookie display just fell and scattered across the sidewalk. In any event, the few minutes you spent coming to someone's assistance is always time well spent.

  4. Playing with children. It may be as simple as answering the toy phone when a 2 year old hands it to you ("Hello? .... I see .... It's for you"), pushing little ones on a swing-set ("More, more, more!"), or playing CandyLand, even though the board is broken and you are missing all the gumdrop cards. Playtime builds memories that last forever, and remembering how to play will keep you from getting old on the inside.

  5. Taking the time for courtesy. Remembering the basics of Please, Thank You and Your Welcome will go a long way towards better relationships with everyone in your life. Even if you are in a hurry, these simple words are always appropriate.

  6. Buying lemonade from the kids with the sidewalk stand. True, it is mostly just water, but you have given these young entrepreneurs a real sense of accomplishment, and have helped lay the groundwork for building in them a sense that hard work pays rewards.

  7. Hugging someone who is sad. We all have a basic human need to be held sometimes, and often, a simple hug will do wonders that words can't. Loneliness, grief and sorrow are natural emotions that can be eased by the comfort of a good hug from a loving friend.

  8. Sharing a funny joke. Not all funny stories are age appropriate, and some people's sense of humor leaves something to be desired, but a good joke, well told, will create laughter and smiles. There is nothing better than a good old fashioned belly laugh to make everyone feel better.

  9. Daily personal hygiene. We all feel better when we look good, and are clean and dressed. Not everyone can afford to wear expensive clothes or makeup, but even simply brushing your teeth and combing your hair creates within you a stronger sense of self-worth, and the few minutes it takes is time well spent.

  10. Saying "I Love You". I can promise that you will never regret telling your family and close friends that you care about them. Wouldn't it be nice if the last words that you said to everyone you care for were this simple three word expression? I sincerely hope that negative or bitter words are never anyone's last memories of me.

As The Sun Sets

Each of us gets 24 hours every day to live in. No one gets any extra, and no one gets short-changed. How we spend those hours determines who we are and where we are going. At the end of each day, we should all strive to be able to look back on the previous 24 hours and smile.

Making mistakes doesn't mean you are a bad person, and you can't go back and change what has already happened. Don't waste your time with regret and self-pity, but learn, grow and move on. If today wasn't what you wanted it to be, then try to make tomorrow better. One step at a time you can become who you want to be, if you listen to your heart and learn from your experiences.

A few thoughts directly,

From Grandpa's Heart ...

September 28, 2012

The Christmas Gift

And A Child Shall Lead Them

This story was told to me a while ago, and I think that it is worth a retelling. It has been around the internet for a while, but I decided that with a few modifications, the message behind the words will come through. 

This story touched me deeply, and I hope you all enjoy it. I will warn you though, you may need some tissues before we get to the end, but you'll be glad you came along for the ride ...

A Hug From A Child

It was a chilly night in December, and we were the only family with children in the entire restaurant. I sat my son in a high chair, and noticed that everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, my boy squealed rather loudly. He pounded his fat little baby hands on the high chair tray with glee and loudly said "Hi!". His eyes were crinkled up in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his amusement. Across the room from us, smiling and wiggling his fingers at the boy, sat an old man in a faded sweat jacket.
His jacket's zipper appeared to be broken, exposing a threadbare shirt. His pants were baggy, his toes were peeking out of would-be shoes and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so red and varicose it looked like a rose-colored road map. We were too far away from him to tell for sure, but I was pretty sure he smelled.

His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists, and he grinned with a less than full set of teeth. "Hi there, baby," the man said to my little boy. "Hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster!"

My husband and I exchanged looks, trying to figure out what to do, while our son continued to grin, laugh and say "Hi" in his charming infant way.

By now, everyone in the restaurant noticed and they all seemed to look first at us, and then at the scruffy man. The old guy was creating a nuisance with my beautiful child, and I could tell it was beginning to irritate the other diners. 

At last our meal came, and the man began calling from across the room, "Do ya do patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? ... Hey, look!  He knows peek- a-boo!"  Nobody thought the old man was cute, and my husband and I were embarrassed. 

We ate in silence; all except for the baby. The little guy was running through his entire charming repertoire for the admiring old bum, who in turn continued to reciprocate with his too-loud comments. 

We finally got through our meal, and got ready to head for the door. My husband went to pay the check, and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat at his single table, poised between me and the front door. "Lord, please, just let me out of here before he speaks to me," I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned sideways, trying to avoid any air he might be breathing. 

Just as I thought we would reach the haven of the doorway and safety, my son leaned away from me, reaching out with both arms, in that almost instinctual baby-sign for 'pick me up'. Suddenly I tripped and the baby pushed away from me, propelling himself straight into the open and waiting arms of the man. 

Suddenly a very old man and a very young baby were embracing. The boy, in an act of total trust, love and submission, laid his tiny head on the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and as chubby arms wrapped around his neck, I saw tears hover beneath his old lashes. His wrinkled and aged hands, full of grime, pain, and a lifetime of hard labor, cradled my baby, and patted his back. 

No two beings have ever shared such pure love so deeply, for so short a time. 

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and hugged the little boy for just a moment, then his eyes opened. He looked me straight in the eye and said in a firm commanding voice, "You take good care of this precious baby." Somehow I managed, 'I will,' from a throat that now contained a stone. He pried my son from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in great pain. 

I took the baby from him, and the old man said, "God bless you, ma'am. You've given me my Christmas gift." I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With my son in my arms and tears streaming down my face, I ran for the car.
My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding the baby so tightly, and why I was saying, 'My God, my God, please forgive me.

I had just witnessed Christ's love, shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin and made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, with a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian mother who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking, "Are you willing to share your son for a moment?" when He shared His for all eternity. 

The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, 'To enter the Kingdom of God , we must become as little children.'

Let Love Guide You

As you go through your days, try not to be blinded by what you see. Everyone you meet has a story, and inside, they are all worthy of respect, compassion and for those who truly profess to believe in the teachings of a carpenter from Galilee, love.

A story told with blurred eyes and joy,

From Grandpa's Heart ...

September 27, 2012

What's It Worth?

How You View Money

It's my firm belief that while money is a very useful tool, it does not make a very worthwhile goal.  We've all heard the old sayings, 'The Best Things In Life Are Free', and 'Money Can't Buy Happiness'. I think that both of these statements are true, but unfortunately, money is a necessary evil in our society. We need money to provide the basics of food, health and shelter for ourselves and those we love and are responsible for.

Maybe evil is too strong a word. Money isn't the root of all evil, but a love of money, and a desire for the power that money can provide, is probably behind more of the evil in our world than any other root cause. Of all our baser emotions, greed has to be one of the most destructive to the relationships that make life worth the daily struggle.

See, I grew up in a household that never saw much money. We ate lots of mac-n-cheese, hamburger helper and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.  We wore second-hand clothes most of the time, and the only time we saw new toys was at Christmas and birthdays. But I never considered us poor, because we had something that some of my friends, who were financially much better off, didn't have ... We had love, laughter and each other.

In school I was, at times, envious of the 'stuff' that other kids had, but I understood even then, that having lots of cool stuff didn't mean that you were happy. I remember seeing one of my classmates come to school in brand new clothes, with bruises on her face, and feeling blessed and lucky. I had the best mom in the world. She worked hard, and while steak was only for special occasions, we never went to bed hungry, and I never had to hide my face, or my feelings, from the world. 

Wealth Is Not Success

Too many people equate success with wealth. Money can be used to make your life more comfortable, but simply having it does not guarantee happiness, love or success in building relationships with others. I'm not saying that having money is bad, but it shouldn't be the goal. Having the security that a savings account provides is wonderful, but being broke does not mean that you are a failure, it just means you have to keep working to provide the basics.

Maybe I'm not the best judge of money. I've never been wealthy, so I can't speak from experience about having lots of money. There were times in my life that I earned a lot of money, but I used it as a tool to provide the things my family wanted and needed. I made a lot of mistakes as well, and never saved  money or tried to accumulate wealth, but my wife and I always tried to give our kids the best gifts of all - positive self-images, love and a set of values that will help them to be the best people they can be.

True Value

If you find yourself feeling blue because you are struggling with the bills and pressures of life, or if you are so focused on accumulating money that your health or relationships suffer, keep in mind another great nugget of handed-down wisdom, 'You Can't Take It With You'. When you come to the clearing at the end of the path, and look back at your life, will you have regrets? Which will you regret more, not having all the fancy things you could have bought, or not spending more time with those you love and who love you?

Just think what a wonderful world we could all live in, if more people taught their children to think more about the value of things and people, and less about how much they cost. If everyone put the joy of a child's smile above the self-satisfaction of a wad of cash in their pocket, and the warmth that comes from helping others over the ego boost that a big check gives them, how much happier would we all be?

I may not be rich, but when I look at my children and grandchildren, I feel very successful indeed. When the time comes, I will stand before my maker, point to my memories of their smiles and their happiness and be very proud of the job I've done, and the life I've led.

This opinion is totally free of charge, and comes straight

From Grandpa's Heart ...

September 25, 2012

Remembering My Dad

A Sad Day

On March 31, 2011, my dad, August W. ‘Bill’ Grein, passed over to the other side. That evening I sat and, through a series of Facebook posts and comments, created a letter about and to him. 

Many of my friends and family saw us through this difiicult time, and I feel so blessed to have them all in my life.

I have combined my notes and comments into a document that I’d like to share with you all (edited to read a little clearer):

To Everyone Who Supported Us

Thank you so much for your support, kindness and prayers on this difficult day. My father was a great man, and will be missed by many. He was a past Grand Master of his Masonic lodge, and is survived by 6 children, 14 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. (This number is larger now, but this as of the day he passed, and who knows … they may actually be more … he did love kids)

When my wife and I had some troubles 4 years ago and lost our home, he and my step-mother, Karen Grein, stepped in gave my two youngest children a warm, safe and stable place to live. My son Woody is still there, and is thriving. We owe Karen and Dad a debt that can never be repaid. In the end, he was my hero, someone who stepped up when no one else could or would.

To My Dad

I love you Dad. I miss you already, and I only hope that when we meet again in the clearing past the end of the road, that I can look back at my life and say that I was half the man you were.

We had our disagreements, and we let each other down once or twice, but in the end, you taught me so much about life. You got me my first REAL job, and together we built an awesome garage – (it's still there Dad, and is nicer than the home next to it). The gorgeous house you built in Sunrise Terrace is still there too, and is still as beautiful as the day you drove home that last nail.

Thank you for giving me my first thrilling love of computers. Together we rocked the ATARI user's group back in 1984, and we built our first IBM PC's not long after. You kept at it with the upgrades till the end, and I'll make sure that your last gift to Cricket, that PC you were upgrading again, gets finished.

You taught me so many things; how to zip my pants up the SAFE way, how to balance a framing hammer in my hand and how to thread a 3/4" copper pipe. You taught me how to change my oil, use a transit and shingle a roof. But most of all, you taught me that the older I got, the smarter you became.

For all the times I thought I was so much smarter than you, and for the times I was angry at you for the breakup of our family, I am truly sorry. I was too young to really understand what happened between you and Mom, and I took out my pain in anger.

We got to know each other again after I became an adult, and you never excluded me, or any of us kids, from being a part of your family; you showed me that love and family can survive breakups and distance, and that time, and maturity, heals old wounds and helps to strengthen the ties that bind us. Thank you for never repaying my anger in kind, and being ready to reach back out to me when I was ready.

I know that you finally learned NOT to try and sing when you were drunk (the tape recording of ANGEL OF THE MORNING that you made in 1971 or 1972 stuck around in my drawer until at least 1983, and used to bring tears of pain and hours of laughter to any who heard it).

It's not easy to sum up my 47 years of memories of my Dad. I'll finish by saying that the great man that my dad was never made me feel unloved, and was there when I needed him - and that I love him and miss him with all my heart.

Until we meet again, old man, I love you.

Don’t Wait To Tell Them

I was very lucky, in that I was able to visit with my dad, right before he passed, and tell him how much I loved him. He even made a joke about my belly looking pregnant, and giving him another grandchild (that was probably the morphine talking, ha ha) … but I was able to say goodbye.

Please don’t miss any chances you have to tell those you love how you feel. I now always try to say I Love You to all of my family whenever I can … It’s the one thing you’ll never regret saying, and should rightfully be our last words to each other when the time comes to say goodbye.

This heart-felt truth comes, as always,

From Grandpa’s Heart …

September 24, 2012

On Pets

My two current furry children: Kilo Marie, the vicious
pit-bull, and DoraBelle Kitti, the orphaned fly-killer

Born This Way

For most of my entire life, I have had at least one pet, and sometimes many, many more. There have been rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and mice.  We have even had fish, snakes, and at one time, a hedgehog, but this is pushing the boundaries of the word pet, since petting these animals is difficult, if not impossible. We have had birds, a pot-bellied pig, and many rabbits that called our house home, as well as countless cats and dogs, Sometimes there was a whole pack, and at others just a single non-human family member, but there has always been at least one pet around.

During my early childhood, I had a small dog named Smokey, who was my constant companion, and many times my only true friend. Since then I have had many dogs, of all sizes and shapes, and kittens that have run the gamut from all-black to calico.  As I write this, the two critters in the picture above are both sprawled out asleep, Dora is on her back, paws extended in a full stretch, draped across the arm of the couch, and Kilo is twitching under the blanket on the bed, chasing something in her dreams and snoring like a buzz-saw.

Are they a pain in the butt?  Occasionally, yes.
Would I trade them for anything? Certainly not.

Not For Everyone

Some people are just not pet lovers. Unfortunately this is often true of pet owners as well. The difference, in my mind, is as simple as where your pets sleep. If you, like me, find yourself having to scoot the dog over so there's room for you on the bed, or trying to see TV over the cat that is sleeping on your chest, then you are a pet lover. If instead the dog drives you crazy barking outside at night then either you are merely a pet owner, or you live near one.

Don't get me wrong ... Some people have 'trained' their animals to sleep on the floor or have a special bed for them, and for them, that's fine, but for me, my animals are a part of my family, and they have always been welcome to sleep with me (although Miss Kilo is REALLY spoiled, since she has to be under the covers as well.)

Other people don't have pets, for one reason or another. I feel sorry for them. I mean, their houses are probably much cleaner than mine, they probably never have to change clothes because of the hair that is stuck to them, and they don't have the responsibility of making sure that their four-legged friends have food, water and medical care ... but they are also missing out. They will never know the unconditional love that your dog has for you when you come home tired and sore, or the warmth and joy that your cat gives you, kneading and purring like there's no better place in the world to be than in your lap.

Think Before You Bring It Home

Being a pet lover, and having children who also love pets, can be challenging. My kids brought to our door many animals that they just happened to 'find' on their way home, and more often than not we kept these strays. The problem is, dogs and cats are much worse than children; I mean, kids eventually learn to feed themselves, and once they are potty-trained, you don't have to worry too much about cleaning up their poop. Animals on the other hand, offer you the life-long responsibility of cycling food through them - both the input and the output are yours to be in charge of ... forever.

The one thing that everyone with pets should seriously consider, is spaying or neutering your buddies. I know that some people breed their animals intentionally, and purebred babies are worth a lot of money, but there are so many unwanted puppies and kittens out there, that for most people, preventing accidental litters should be a big priority. I know, I have had to find homes for a large number of these myself, and having my animals fixed is just one less thing to complicate their lives, and mine.

Hint: If you do have little ones to find homes for, please try your hardest to see that they will be loved and cared for. A small re-homing fee is a good way to help with this. People who pay for a new pet are much more likely to care for it than those who are just given one.

The Best Breeds

Everyone who has pets, or has ever had them, will have their own favorite breed. For me, I have never owned a smarter or gentler dog than a black lab (or lab/basset mix), but in the end, it doesn't really matter. Any dog, raised with affection, exercise and a good diet will shower you with love, and any cat who has stimulation, attention and good food, will still ignore you when it strikes their fancy, but either way, they will enrich your life.

So if you don't like animals, then maybe you should re-think plans to come to my place. My animals live here, and are part of my family. If you DO visit, make sure you check for pet hair before you sit down, and don't expect to escape without doggy and/or kitty kisses being bestowed upon you. 

You have been given this warning,

From Grandpa's Heart ...

September 20, 2012

The Water Beetles


A Beautiful Story 

I'd like to share with you all a story, based on a message that I read, attributed to an Unknown Author. The basic story was posted in one of the Facebook groups that I belong to, and it touched my heart. I have re-told it here in my own words, and I hope you enjoy it.

Once upon a time, there was a little pond. In this pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a happy community of water beetles. They lived a simple and comfortable life in their pond, with few disturbances and interruptions. 

Once in a while, a great sadness would come to this community, when one of their fellow beetles would, without explanation, climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They knew when this happened that their friend was dead, gone forever. They grieved for these lost companions, and missed them terribly, as they continued their water beetle activities, living their water beetle lives. 

One day, a little water beetle felt an irresistible urge to climb up one of the stems. He really loved his family, and was determined that he would climb to the other side of the lily pad, but he would not leave forever. He would look around, then come back and tell everyone what he had found at the top. 

The little beetle set out in curiosity and wonder, and even a little fear. When he reached the top, he climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad and found a whole new world of sunshine and blue skies. The trip had been a long one though. He was so tired, and the amazing warmth from the sun felt so good, that he decided he must take a nap, before heading back to his loved ones to tell them how wonderful it was up here. 

As he slept, his little body underwent a miraculous change. He woke to find that he was no longer a water beetle, but had turned into the most beautiful blue-tailed dragonfly, with glorious broad wings and a slender new body designed for flying. This was amazing! 

He flexed his new wings and was suddenly airborne. His world had always been one of happiness in his muddy little pond, but now as he soared into the clear blue sky, he found a completely new world. This new life was so much more wonderful than his old one, and he was so free! 

Then, he remembered his beetle friends, and how by now they must be thinking that he had died. He really needed to go back and tell them that he wasn't gone, only changed, and that he was more alive now than he had ever been before. His life hadn't ended, but had been fulfilled. 

Unfortunately, he discovered that his new body couldn't go back down under the water. He wouldn't be able to get back and tell them all the good news. Then he looked down as another water beetle fell asleep on a lily pad, and he understood that the time would come when all of his family and friends would join him in this new life, they would understand the things he did, and they would all be together again.

With joy in his heart he flew off into the clear sky, ready for the happiness, freedom and new adventures that awaited this fresh and glorious existence. 

A Powerful Analogy 

While this simple little story doesn't encompass the depth of emotion that losing our loved ones carries, it is a wonderful reminder that one day, we'll all get to enjoy a better place than this life of muddy water. May you keep hope and love alive inside you, even when one of your loved ones climbs that stem and disappears on the other side of the lily pads.

A simple wish,

From Grandpa's Heart ...

September 19, 2012

The Lighter Side (#1)

Smile - It Feels Good

Seems to me, I've gotten a bit serious with some of these posts, and just thought I'd share a couple of my favorite jokes.

While I've heard a lot of good jokes, I tend to forget them easily .. but here are some of the best ones that I do remember:

Grandma / Grandpa Jokes

  • A woman and an infant were waiting patiently in the examining room at the doctors office. The doctor came in and the woman explained that she was worried the baby wasn't gaining enough weight. "Is the baby breast-fed or bottle-fed?" the doctor asked her.

    She replied "Breast-fed."

    "Strip down to the waist," he ordered. The woman did, and the doctor proceeded to examine her breasts, kneading each one carefully, and gently squeezing each of her nipples. "Well, I see the problem," he told her. "You have no milk in your breasts."

    "I know," she replied. "I'm his grandma, but I'm SO glad my daughter had me bring the baby in today ..."

  • Grandma and Grandpa retired to their bedroom one night, and climbed into bed. Grandpa was tired and started to doze off, but Grandma was feeling a little amorous, and wanted to talk.

    "Honey," she said, "do you remember when we were young? You use to hold my hand in bed." Grandpa reached over and after a few fumbles found her hand and gave it a good squeeze, then relaxed once more.

    "And then you used to kiss me." Grandma said softly. The old man sighed, then sat up, leaned over on pecked her on the cheek. He then lay back and rolled over.

    "And sometimes you would softly bite the side of my neck," his wife said with her sexiest voice. Exasperated, Grandpa threw back the covers, sat up and made his way toward the bathroom. "Where are you going?" she asked worriedly.

    "To find my damn teeth!"

  • As I was walking down the street, I noticed a little boy of about 6 sitting on the steps of a house , crying his young eyes out, and seated nearby was an elderly man in a wheelchair, also crying terribly. Concerned, I stopped and asked the old man if he was okay. He just continued streaming tears and pointed to the little boy. I leaned over to the youngster and asked him what was wrong.

    "That's the same thing Grandpa asked me," said the boy through his tears. "And I told him I really, really wish I could do what my 20 year-old brother could do. That's when he started crying!"

    I thought about for a minute, then sat down and cried too.

Heart Attack Jokes

  • A woman walked up to a little old man rocking in a chair on his porch. Gazing at his smiling wrinkled face, she said to him, "I couldn't help noticing just how happy you look. Please, what's your secret for a long happy life?"

    "I just survived a triple bypass heart surgery, my dear," he said, "and I have a few secrets. See, I smoke three packs of cigarettes a day, and drink a case of whiskey a week. I always eat fatty foods, never exercise, have sex with wild women and occasionally partake of heavy drugs."

    "That's amazing," the woman said. "And if I might ask, how old are you?"

    "Twenty-six," he said.

  • A 92 year-old man went to the doctor to get a physical. A few days later the doctor saw the man walking down the street with a gorgeous young lady on his arm. At his follow up visit the doctor talked to the man and said, "You're really doing great, aren't you?"

    The man replied, "Just doing what you told me Doc, remember? You said 'Get a hot mamma and be cheerful'."

    The doctor said, "I didn't say that ... I said you've got a heart murmur, and need to be careful!"

  • An elderly man and woman met at a retirement home, and started dating. Soon the old man plucked up his courage, and asked his new friend back to his room, where they could maybe get more comfortable. The woman grinned with a mischievous look in her eye, and agreed.

    Back in his room, she leaned in close to him and said softly "I really must warn you that we need to go slowly. You see, I have acute angina."

    He stepped back, looking concerned, then a smile spread across his wrinkled old face. He held her close and whispered in her ear, "Yeah, well your boobies are darn nice, too!"

Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine

The best doctors and nurses at the hospital are the ones who make you smile, and the best of these are the ones who know some really good jokes. My last visit to the the local Healing Hotel was made much easier by the attitude of two wonderful nurses, who tried to outdo the other's jokes each time they came in. I thank them for helping me to laugh, despite my discomfort.

Our time together is limited, and life is far too short not to spend as much time as possible laughing, smiling and being as happy as you can. Spread smiles and laughter to those around you every day, and you will always have friends who want you near.

Now, you'll have to excuse me, because I laughed so hard I think the tears are running down my leg ... (there's an image you probably DIDN'T want!) ..

Grins and giggles ...

From Grandpa's Heart ...

September 18, 2012

Give A Little Bit

Making A Difference

I think that deep inside, we all have a basic need to feel that we have made a positive difference in the lives of others. For many people, especially those whose lives have been shaped in the 'ME' generation, this need to help others is not always easy to admit, even to ourselves. We search for a way to fill this empty hole in our souls, but often we're not even sure what is supposed to be there. Sadly, failure to fulfill this need in ourselves can lead to depression, anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.

I recently read a post from a friend who served our country as a medic in the Iraq war. He was confused by the fact that a part of him actually missed being over there in combat. He felt that he was missing purpose in his life. My comment on his post was that maybe it wasn't 'purpose' he was missing, but that feeling of being needed, and of making a positive difference in other people's lives. I'm sure that many soldiers feel this loss upon return to civilian life, none more than the medics who are there saving lives among the horrors of battle.

Fortunately, there are many ways that even the poorest, or busiest of us can be of benefit to, or can come to the assistance of others ... and in doing so, give to ourselves one of life's greatest gifts.

Volunteering Is The Key

When you hear the word volunteer, you probably think of a specific example that you have either witnessed or been a part of in your life. A basic definition of of the word, is to give freely of one's time and energy in the service of others. The beauty of selflessly giving to others, is that you actually get back so much more than you give.

Many people volunteer in our communities every day, and provide wonderful services to those in need, from the men and women who bravely assist in putting out fires when they strike, to those who help the sick and injured in our local health care facilities. From the teenagers who provide transportation and guidance so that neighborhood children can attend the youth group at their church, to the retired folks who prepare food at local community dinners and help feed the homeless and hungry, these people have all found a way to give back - and in doing so have not only made the world a better place, but have become better people themselves.

These are just some of the more common methods of giving to each other that we are familiar with, but there are other ways to give that you may not have considered.

Think Outside The Box

As an example of a way to give without actually giving up anything but time (and maybe a few unneeded calories), consider this ...

I use to take my grandkids to the local playground. Here I would see a number of parents, grandparents and guardians sitting on the benches as the children played. Instead of just watching, I chose to play too. I would become the 'motor' for the merry-go-round, the 'swing machine', the 'customer' at the sand-soup restaurant, and occasionally the 'monster' under the bridge.  Did it cost me anything? No. But it did provide endless entertainment for the whole playground ... and believe me, nothing makes kids smile more than seeing a fat old grandpa go down the slide headfirst. I spent some time, had some fun, and imparted not only lots of smiles and laughter to the children, but I taught them that they don't ever have to be too old to play, to make-believe and to have fun with one another.

Now you may not consider this to be volunteering, but I will have to disagree. It may not have been recordable on any charity's hourly report of service time, but it filled a spot inside me that really felt good not to have empty, and I had a blast (even if I did need a couple Ibuprofen afterward).

Use What You Have

We all have talents, abilities, skills and/or knowledge that we can use to make our communities better places. A lot of us spend a great many hours selling our services to our employers in order to provide for our families and ourselves, and far too few hours giving of ourselves in order to provide a better world to live in.

Why not use your passion or talents to see if maybe you can't make another person smile and feel better today? Myself, I'm not bad at creating images on my computer, and I now devote a large percentage of this skill to creating special 'Angel Images' for those who have lost loved ones. It's not much, and it won't change lives, but it does something special for those who are hurting, and maybe helps ease their suffering a tiny bit. This is done as a labor of love, and these special keepsake images are given to the families without any expectation of payment, a gift that I thank God I have, and freely give away.

At the end of the day, if you can look back and see that you were able to make someone's life better, even in the smallest way, then its been a day well spent. You will come away with something real and good and fulfilling, and not a hungry hole inside. Your gift doesn't need to be shouted out, because you know in your heart that it was given from your soul.

This is a firm belief that comes,

From Grandpa's Heart ...