I don’t know anyone that enjoys hard work, but the ethic that it develops is extremely valuable. The earlier you learn how to work hard and how to handle hard things in life the earlier you are going to have success.
The most helpful things in life haven’t been when I’ve received money, but life lessons that help me become a better person.
Hard Work Life Lessons from Grandpa
My grandpa was extremely wealthy. He grew up in Southern California and was a firefighter, but was injured on the job shortly after joining and got out and went into the medical profession where at one point he made nearly $30,000 a month.
He and my grandma talked about finances and money all the time on their real-estate properties, gold, stocks, and other financial investments. Guess how much money he passed down to the rest of us after he died $0. “Earn your own money, this is mine.” It was so awesome.
No! I Hate Going to Grandpas
My grandparents lived four hours south of where I lived and so it was a long trip in the car to see them. We didn’t have DVD players, video games, and other things to distract us. We actually had to talk with our parents, read books, and do other worthwhile activities on the trip which made it seem like it took forever.
Most people enjoy visiting their grandparents. I hated it. My grandpa wasn’t the type to say “Hi! Glad you are here, how is school, have some candy.” As soon as I walked in the door he had some work to do. My grandma was the opposite and loved to shop and spend money, but my sister always got grandma time and I was stuck learning “life is hard.”
Move The Wood Pile
One task that I’ll never forget was moving the wood pile. I never understood why my grandpa had a wood pile to start with. He lived in Southern Utah where it is warm all year and never snows. Most homes didn’t have a fireplace because it’s 100+ degrees all summer and 70-80 in the winter. He had the wood piled next to the garage and wanted it moved 25 feet over against the fence.
The wood pile was probably 4 feet tall and went the length of the side of the house so it was a significant amount to move. This time he said if I moved all the wood over to the other side he’d give me $10. He had never offered money before and $10 was a lot, but I knew it was going to take all day long.
Seriously going out of town to grandpa and grandma’s is supposed to be a vacation….not for me!
I started early in the morning and moved the wood over one or two logs at a time. I was really motivated at first, but then it was harder and harder and it go really hot really fast….remember that 100+ degree weather? I was getting fried and just before dinner I finished it. I was so tired and beat.
At the dinner table, I told my grandpa and everyone else I was done. I asked for my $10.
“I saw that you moved it over, but now that I see it against the fence I think I liked it better against the garage so I want you to move it back,” my grandpa said. “I’ll give you the money when the job is completed and done right.”
I was so upset and looked over at my mom and she just shrugged her shoulders. After all, she had grown up this way so she knew how things worked.
You Better Finish Your Dinner
I left the table and was so mad. My grandpa did all the cooking and since he was a doctor our meals were always extra healthy and kind of strange tasting.
“If you don’t finish your dinner you’ll eat it for breakfast,” my grandpa said.
“I don’t care.”
The next morning I had scrambled eggs with spaghetti inside the eggs. Don’t mess with grandpa….you don’t win.
After my delicious breakfast which I was terrified not to finish this time, I started moving everything back to the way it was. I’ll be honest I don’t think my grandpa ever wanted the wood pile moved but just wanted to have my work.
I Need Your For Surgery
On another visit, my grandpa woke me up at midnight and told me to get up. I was probably 12 years old at the time and he said he needed my help performing surgery. I was shocked, I was a little kid and he wants my help at his clinic.
I got up and headed to the garage and he said we were going into the backyard. I was pretty confused but then saw all the commotion at the back end of my grandpa’s property where he had horses.
Another man was transporting some horses and had to hit the brakes hard the horse was eating some hay and got hay jammed way up its nose from the hard braking. It was apparently a pretty serious situation for the horse.
My grandpa could have taken care of everything with the vet but since I was there it was time for another “life lesson.”
Imagine you are a little kid with there is a big horse and it is pitch black except for a few flashlights and you were just pulled out of bed. I had no idea what I was doing and the vet is yelling at me to come over while my grandpa held the horse in place. The vet is holding the horse’s head and yells
“Stick this tube up the horse’s nose now!”
I grabbed it but didn’t want to get near the horse, it was freaking out. The vet grabs my hand and the tube and shoves it up the horse’s nose. I don’t remember exactly the next steps, but I do remember moments later being completely covered in blood, snot, and hay.
The horse was fine. I was scarred for life and still hate horses to this day.
The next morning I told my mom I needed some new clothes because mine were ruined. She asked why, after all, they were in bed while this all happened, and I told her what her dad had done in the middle of the night. She was upset but that was grandpa.
I’m Proud of You
I have numerous other life lessons from my grandpa. I could literally write a book on them. He worked so hard in life and had high expectations of others, especially his own family.
The Thanksgiving before he died he had all of his family together for the dinner. We were at a large building with a basketball court so we could easily sit all together and then play basketball later. My grandpa really mellowed out his last few years of life and got up after the dinner and said that this was likely his last Thanksgiving with the family and wanted to talk to us.
He then asked me to come up. He called each of his 20 or so grandchildren up and talked about them in front of all the family. I was now 24 and had finished college and was working in another state. He put his arm around me and told me how proud he was of me and that I was the only grandchild that ever did everything he asked. Then this is the part I’ll never forget.
“I know you will be fine in life and be successful in whatever you want to do. If you can handle me you can handle anyone. I love you forever.”
I broke down. He had been so hard on me my whole life as a little kid and teenager so I was taken aback hearing this…but my grandpa gave me something that you can’t learn out of a book or get with money. He taught me hard work and that I can do hard things beyond what I thought I could ever do.
Best Grandpa Ever!