A smile can convey so many things that words cannot, especially if it is genuine. It is a powerful instrument for expression and this power is what experience has taught me to believe in.
I did not know my grandfather very well. I knew him only through vague memories and the stories about him my mom has told me thousands of times. What I have deduced is that he was a colorful character.
His father founded a town in Illinois and named it after the family name: Sauget. My grandfather took his father’s place as mayor and was involved in the town and it’s politics his entire life. He genuinely cared about the wellbeing of the town, as well as the wellbeing of his daughters. He gave them the best possible education and made sure that they made lives for themselves outside of the small town.
However, he was never affectionate or loving toward anyone. He had a vulgar tongue and a loud voice. He wasn’t the most righteous man in the world, did not always do the right thing, and certainly had his enemies. But, bad qualities aside, he was generally a good man, with mostly good intentions.
Living most of my young life overseas, I rarely got the opportunity to visit or get to know him. When I did visit, he always made me feel grown up by letting me drive his golf cart around and I greatly enjoyed being around him. But it seemed as if my caring for him was not reciprocated. He never sent me cards or presents, never called to talk to me, and never told me that he loved me. He had an untimely death, and even though I barely knew the man, I was saddened by it and felt like I had missed out on spending time with him.
After he died, my parents and I went to his house to pick out keepsakes. Something I stumbled across amongst his possessions altered my previous perceptions of him, although I have only just realized it’s meaning. What I found was a picture of my grandfather holding me the first time he saw me as a baby. The joyful grin stretching across his face made him seem like the happiest man in the world. Even though we hardly knew each other and even though he never showed or told me that he cared about me, I have come to the realization that he wasn’t just smiling for a photograph: he was smiling because he really did love me. I never thought that something as simple as a smile could say so much. Despite the fact that I will never have the chance to become acquainted with my grandfather now, I will always have the photograph of his smile while holding me to prove that he cared.
A smile can say so many things left unsaid: that is the power of a smile and that is what I have come to believe in.
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