Wisdom of the Ages (and the Aged)

This was originally written as a eulogy for my grandfather, Errol Grant Myhand (1924-2011). I spent a few weeks with him on the family land in Pine Mountain, Georgia, almost every summer from age 4-21 (and plenty of other times as well), so writing this a day after his passing left it very sentimental. Years hence, I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’ve heard it said that the chain of wisdom always skips a generation; that the lessons of lives long lived are instilled in grandchildren by their grandparents while their parents are working to make ends meet.

That’s not to say that our parents are not wise, rather that our ability to absorb their wisdom as children is clouded by familiarity, authority, and selfishness–we’re predisposed to doubt what they tell us until we grow up to realize they knew exactly whereof they spoke. In the time between birth and that epiphany of maturity, God interposes grandparents.

Family portrait, 1929

Family portrait, 1929. He and Aunt Edna (his twin sister) were almost 5 here.

Maybe we listen to them because they’re a curiosity–we don’t see them daily as we do our parents, gray hair and glasses make them seem softer, their habits and customs from an earlier time are both confusing and inviting. Maybe we let them teach us because they offer us love with an infinite patience bolstered by the peace and quiet of living somewhere else (without kids) most of the time.

Whatever the reasons, this cross-generational transfer of wisdom seems to be part of the design of life. Thinking of this after losing Papaw, It’s hard to look at my life and values without seeing his fingerprints everywhere.

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