Words of Wisdom from the Man Who Couldn’t Speak

Elizabeth - Boise, Idaho
Entered on March 13, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that mutes make the best friends.

When my mother was pregnant with me sixteen years ago, my grandfather had a stroke and lost control over part of his brain. From then on he was unable to walk or speak any words beyond: yes, no, Jesus Christ, and the more than occasional sh*t. But his loss of speech and mobility made my Grandpy, as we called him, a very interesting person.

He had always been a big traveler, but his wheelchair made air travel hard. Instead, Grandpy began going on cruises. He went around the world and back quite a few times. When the ship would dock and his caretaker wasn’t there, Grandpy disappeared.

Somehow he was able to get off the ship, get to where he needed to go and back. How he did this remains a mystery to the whole family. Sometimes he’d have gotten a haircut, and more often he’d have something for a family member. He was always safely aboard the ship before it left again. When he’d come home we’d receive his gifts from around the world. But when we asked him where they came from or anything else, all we got was a sly look and the giggle of a man well pleased.

Because he was in a wheelchair and didn’t speak, most people passed him as an invalid. They’d talk too loudly or slowly, as if he couldn’t understand, but that never seemed to bother him. Whenever we were in public places and the people around us were talking, he would sit quietly for a while; the rest of us not necessarily paying attention—but he was. Often he’d start laughing, or he’d say one of his words. The people around his would stop talking, passing him as the crazy guy. However, he was listening to their conversations—laughing at what they’d said, or disagreeing with it. By being quiet, Grandpy came across many interesting conversations.

My grandfather’s inability to speak made him a great person to talk to. Not because he couldn’t respond, because he did—in his own way. He was great to talk to because you knew you could trust him. Anything you told him would be secret, no matter what. That trust and ability to listen is a quality few people have today.

Now when I say that mutes make the best friends, I’m not telling everybody to quit talking completely. I think that we should just learn some lessons from the man who couldn’t.

We should learn to give to and help others, but without telling them that we deserve the credit. Good should be done without expecting credit for the things we do.

People should learn to listen. Often we talk too much and miss out on plenty of interesting things that could help us grow into more educated and interesting people.

Lastly, we need to be people that others can trust. We should keep others’ secrets and listen quietly when they speak.

I believe we all have much to learn from mutes; they can teach us to be the best kind of friends.