Every time my grandparents come to visit, my granddad always likes to tell me the same story. It starts off, “Jordan, I remember when you were just this tall,” he brings his hand down to right above his knee, and goes on to tell me that I just stared him in the eye and simply said, “Hey,” with a long southern draw that only I could create. Even though I have heard this story countless times, I still join my granddad in laughter when he begins to crack up over the first word I ever said to him. I used to wonder why he enjoyed telling the story so much, but as I have matured, I have realized that my granddad has always been the type of person to appreciate the small things in life. Material possessions never meant much of anything to him, but if you give him a moment to remember for the rest of his life, he is a happy man. My granddad’s lifestyle has taught me to believe that sometimes having enough of what you need is more than you could ever ask for.
Raised in an incredibly poor family, my granddad managed to find a sense of individualism despite the fact that he was one of sixteen children. By the age of sixteen, he had lost both his mother and father due to cancer. Shortly after, he found himself in a courtroom on the verge of going to prison for stealing from a store. If it weren’t for a minister who told the judge that he would look after my grandfather, my granddad could have very easily gone to jail. This instance, I believe, is what brought my granddad to become a pastor himself. By the age of twenty, he had married my grandmother and was ready to start a family.
While many would see being a father of four and a minister an incredibly difficult job, my granddad managed to perfect it. If life wasn’t complicated enough, my grandparents did not have the luxury of money. My granddad did not receive a great amount of money for being a minister, and my grandmother devoted all of her time to taking care of their four children. My mother always tells me about how my granddad would go out on the weekends and pick up cans on the side of the road or take on extra jobs in order to make ends meet. Even though my mother clearly remembers her family having little money, the most distinct characteristic she remembers about my granddad is that no matter what, he always emphasized the importance of faith. The emphasis that he put on faith was instilled in all of his children, and all four of them have grown up to be incredibly successful people. My granddad always reflected his morals and beliefs through his actions. Whether he was at church, at home, or simply picking up cans on the side of the road, he realized the importance of displaying his faith through his everyday life.
As I watch my granddad today, I can see that despite the hardest of times, my granddad still keeps his head held high, never allowing his faith to falter. I used to wonder why he always had to tell me that “life’s not fair” whenever I complained about how unfair any situation was, but now I see that it is because he has seen it all. He has lived through extremely hard circumstances, yet he somehow still managed to defy the status quo. After 34 years of being a minister, he just recently retired from his church in the small town that he lives in. While his retiring was something that was very difficult for our family to cope with, he simply told us over and over again that it was all part of God’s plan. I gained even more respect for him the day that I watched him walk out of the church with his head held high, because I knew, and still know, that my granddad believes fully that even the hardest of times are all a part of God’s plan.
I think it is important to recognize the people that have the ability to change your life. When I see my granddad, I see someone who has more than the richest man in the world. I see a brilliant example of what it means to work with what you have, and to not complain about what you don’t. I see that “keeping up with the Jones’” is pointless, and that having more than you need is simply taking away from what someone else may need. The more I’ve grown and matured, I’ve realized through my grandfather’s life that outlook makes all of the difference, simplicity should be appreciated, and sometimes simply having “enough” is, well, enough.