Lessons From Grandpa


a grandpa

I am thinking about being a grandpa.

No, my children have not yet made me a grandfather, and as far as I know, they don’t plan to in 2014. For which I am grateful. However, when called upon, I intend to be a wonderful grandfather, offering wise wisdom and valuable values and insightful insights. I shall bring to my grandchildren the immeasurable benefit of my long years of experience, as I share with them the perspectives I’ve gained in the process of becoming such a gentle and loving and thoughtful old man, so that they can come to understand the world around them with the same clear-eyed and well balanced outlook that I enjoy.


“Yes, little Dougie.” (I’ve chosen this name for my eventual grandson.)

“Why do you and Grandma live in such a cold place?”

“Well, little Dougie, long, long ago, before you were born, in fact, before even your mommy and daddy were born, Grandma and I lived in a very, very hot place.”

“Did you live in hell?”

“Well, most people didn’t call it that. Your grandma did, but most people didn’t. Most people just referred to it as Phoenix, or Arizona, or, in some cases, the stinkin’ Sonoran Desert.”

“How hot was it, Grandpa?”

“Well, little Dougie, some people claimed it was so hot, you could fry an egg on the hood of your car. But this was just a fable. The actual truth is, you could put a grape on the sidewalk and it would be a raisin by dinnertime. Anyway, it was so hot, and we lived there for so long, that we finally decided to get away, and come to someplace with snow and rain and ice and sleet and slush and floods and hurricanes and earthquakes. So we came here, to Ipswich.”

“But Grandpa, why are the streets here so curvy and bumpy, instead of straight and smooth?”

“Well, little Dougie, the streets here in Ipswich didn’t start out as streets. Ipswich is a very old town, and in the olden days, there were no cars, and they hadn’t invented asphalt yet. There were only cows. The cows grazed wherever the grass was green and sweet, and as they wandered, they created paths. Of course, the ground here in Ipswich is very rocky, and sometimes the cows would step on the rocks, and push them down into the ground, which made holes in the paths. Eventually someone invented asphalt, and they decided to lay the asphalt along these paths, to preserve the memory of those wonderful early days of our town. And they decided to preserve the holes, too. Some people call them potholes, but they’re really historic holes. Other places decided to make their streets straight and smooth, but here, we had a nicer idea.”

“Grandpa, why is our car standing still?”

“Oh, little Dougie, this is where five cows happened to come together at the very same time, to graze at the very same place. They were standing like the points of a star, with their heads all together in the middle. But when they were done eating, they were too dumb to figure out who should go first. Every time one turned to go, he bumped into his neighbor. So they were stuck. Sad to say, the cows never did figure it out. They died right here, and we called this place Five Cows. Later, we laid asphalt over it, and changed the name to Five Corners. And those bricks? That’s where the cows are buried. So down through the years, we have a tradition of stopping and waiting at this intersection, in memory of the cows who died.”

“Grandpa, why are those people in those other cars making those funny hand motions?”

“Little Dougie, this is another wonderful Ipswich tradition. Those people are using sign language to re-create the conversation that the cows had.”



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