My Grandfather Taught Me a Lesson I Could Never Have Imagined

From waking up early to teaching us a new breakfast recipe to showing us exactly where to plant flowers in a garden so they get the right amount of sunlight, our grandparents are some of our greatest teachers in life. 

I didn’t see my grandparents often, as they lived across the country, but I always knew they were just a phone call away. They always showed me unconditional love and support, even when I made mistakes, and they always asked questions about my latest sports games or theater performances. They never failed to make me feel loved and special.

As I grew into a busy teen, I spent less time with my grandparents but always looked forward to birthdays or Thanksgiving with them. Then, I went to college and became even busier. My grandparents were still always rooting for me, cheering me on from a distance and sending cards or text messages to let me know they were there for me. My grandparents were so important to me that I spent my freshman and senior year spring breaks during college with them in Florida. 

Grandparents are wise teachers. (Credit: Madeleine Korn)

My grandparents taught me many important lessons

My grandparents taught me many things — from kindness to acceptance to strength- but perseverance was the most significant thing they taught me. In April 2021, my grandparents’ lives were turned upside down instantly. A car drove into their home, literally. The vehicle went through the front wall of their home, through the living room, and then hit the border between the living room and kitchen.

My grandfather was standing in front of the refrigerator; the car hitting the wall threw him and the fridge across the kitchen, with the refrigerator landing on top of him. Neighbors rushed to assist him before paramedics arrived, and he was ultimately airlifted to a trauma center. He was in serious condition and unable to walk, and we didn’t know if he would ever be able to walk again. I got the call while away at college, and tears streamed down my face as my mom explained the situation to me. 

I was shocked; how could this have happened? This was about the worst thing that can happen to people just trying to enjoy retirement. I felt sick, my stomach hurt, and I wanted to help, but I couldn’t do much from California. The next few weeks were extremely stressful for everyone in my family.

My grandparents were terribly impacted by my grandfather’s accident

We were all so worried about my grandpa’s physical health (being unable to walk and breaking many bones) and his mental health. How would he deal with something so awful happening to him at his age? It also severely impacted my grandma, who was not physically injured but was dealing with the emotional trauma of her beloved husband of over 60 years being injured and the complete loss and destruction of her home and many of the belongings inside.

But what surprised everyone was how positive my grandfather remained throughout the entire thing. He was grateful he was alive when the accident could have quickly taken his life. He taught us that even when life gets you down, you have to be grateful for the things you do have rather than dwelling on the things you don’t have. 

This accident and my grandfather’s reaction to it greatly impacted me. While I had been stressing about all my assignments I had due for college and worried about what I was going to do with my life after I graduated, I realized that all of the little things that had been giving me so much anxiety didn’t matter in the large scheme of things. I had so much to be thankful for.

I realized that if my grandpa could remain positive under such unfortunate circumstances, there was no reason for me to feel angry that I failed one exam or ruined my day when my friends canceled plans (things that used to bother me). 

My grandfather taught me to appreciate the little things in life

I learned to appreciate the little things that make me happy. Even though he could not walk or function as he had previously, my grandpa found ways to become satisfied such as reading his favorite newspaper or receiving a call from a friend or family member. He was grateful for the kind nurses, physical therapists, and other medical personnel who saved his life and helped him recover. 

When something so life-changing happens to a close family member, it puts life into perspective and makes you thankful for the little things in life. My grandpa’s strength and perseverance taught me to live each day to the fullest because anything can happen, and finding things that make you happy every day is essential.

Grandparents can genuinely teach us so much about life. Because they are older, they have much more life experience and can offer advice. They have so much wisdom and are indeed our greatest blessings and our greatest teachers. Cherish your time with them and always listen to their advice; they know more than you may realize. 

More Great Reading:

Grandparents are Underappreciated: Here’s Why We Need to Change That

About Madeleine Korn

Madeleine Korn is a recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. After graduating, she worked in marketing for a cybersecurity company for a year and a half. For the past year, she has been traveling the world while volunteering in hostels. Some of the countries she has visited include Portugal, Croatia, Greece, Albania, Cyprus, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and more. You can follow along with her travels on TikTok and Instagram. She loves writing and creating videos and really enjoys working for Grown and Flown!

Read more posts by Madeleine

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