A Lesson From Grandpa

I have something to share with you. A long time ago, it became a habit of mine to write about the life of a loved one lost because that is what writers do. I would never share these stories with anyone. Now, I think I must share this with all the ones who have been so supportive in the blogging world. Thanks in advance for reading.



A Lesson From Grandpa


            I stood there in the hot September sun of 1982. I was lean back then, lean from my youth and also from the hard farm work that I had done my whole life. I had hauled hay, cut tobacco, hauled manure, shoveled corn, dug ditches, and cut more firewood than most people ever see. I was small at first glance, no more than a hundred and forty-five pounds, but I was also strong for my size and athletic. I could not only keep up with the big boys, but outdo the lazier ones. I had worked bigger, stronger men into the ground and was very proud of that fact.

            At sixteen, everything was a competition to me. Being small in stature, I was in a constant state of having to prove myself and, every time I got the chance, I took it. Sometimes it was on a backyard football field, playing tackle with the big boys and hanging right in. Other times it was the rough and tumble basketball world of Barnes schoolhouse, where you called your own fouls…or you didn’t. Heavy contact was the norm in those games and blood was not out of question ever. At times it was volleyball, horseshoes. Any reason to compete and win, I was there.

            On this hot and sunny day the source of the competition was a long stretch of dark tobacco that was standing out in front of me. At the front of the row was me, with a tobacco knife in hand, bandana wrapped around my head to keep the sweat out and my grandfather with the same weapons. When the cutting was done, four rows and fifty yards of tobacco would be on the ground, ready for the spikes. It was four rows and fifty yards – two rows for him and two rows for me – and I was going to get there first.

            The one thing you have to understand about his whole set up is this. It wasn’t a competition to my grandfather. It was just another field of tobacco to him, just another hot day in a farmer’s life. But when I cut my eyes around at him, I still remember feeling bold and confident. He was sixty-two years old, semi-retired and not nearly the man he used to be. There was no way he was getting there first. The look on my face was one of smugness. No, it wasn’t a competition to Grandpa. It wasn’t, that is, until he saw the cocky smirk on his grandson’s face. It had been 19 years since that happened and I will never forget the look that took over his face. It had just become a competition.

            Well, I can tell you that the competition was just fine with me. I certainly didn’t care who was on the other side of the victory. Grandpa was no slouch in the field, but he was sixty-two and couldn’t handle me.

            Well, I was very good at cutting tobacco, a fact that just wasn’t in dispute. I could fly through a tobacco patch with the grace of a mower and I did this time as well. There were six or eight of us cutting tobacco that day and I was faster than nearly all of them and, at the other end of the row, all the other cutters were amazed. When we were all standing around the water cooler, soaking up the shade, they couldn’t stop talking about it.

            Oh, they were talking about me. No, sir, they most certainly were not. They were talking about the speed of a sixty-two year old man. You see, I didn’t beat Grandpa to the end of the row. Hell, I didn’t even come close to beating him. As a matter of fact as I plowed to the end of the row far ahead of everyone else that day, Grandpa had not only finished out his row, but was coming back down mine. He was finishing up my row.

            At the end of the row, there was no look of satisfaction on his face, no aura of victory pervaded him. He acted as if nothing had happened between us. It was just another row of tobacco to him, another thirty minutes worth of work in a lifetime of hard work.

            To his grandson, it was something far more valuable. It was a lesson in humility that I will never forget. At sixty-two years old, he put me in my place. Now, he could have done it with a single word. Even though this narrative may not have left you with that impression, my respect for him was such that a single phrase of “knock it off” or “wipe that smirk off your face” would have been enough. I would have done so instantly and not had a single word of backtalk for him. But Grandpa chose a much more effective way to knock that smirk off my face. He did it in such a way has never left and never will.

            I suspect that was his intention all along.


            I want to thank you all for letting me share this with you and please forgive me if there are any typos or misspellings. I have never told this story to anyone and I wanted you to read after one telling with the emotions raw and just the way I remembered it. Frank M. Pope had as much to do with changing the stupid boy that I was into the man I became as any other person on the face of the planet. I did not want to edit or cheapen this telling in any way.

            And tonight, after nearly ninety-one years on this earth, after a lifetime of truly serving God and his family, he rests.

Frank Pope 1920-2011 Age 90.

Rest in Peace Grandpa

About timkeen40

When I was seven, I opened one of those little Golden Books (Lassie) and started copying the words down on paper and it set my soul on fire. I have been writing ever since. I don't know where this is going but I invite you along on the journey.
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39 Responses to A Lesson From Grandpa

  1. danroberson says:

    Although this was a lesson in humility, it was also a lesson about teaching in a very effective way. No boasting was needed, no “rubbing it in”, etc. Your grandfather was quite a man and he would be very proud of the honor you’ve bestowed on him. I salute both of you. Thanks for sharing.

  2. booguloo says:

    What a wonderful story. I often lose interest after 5 stanzas in a poem and I was glued to your short story. Thank you for sharing this slice of your life.

  3. aka gringita says:

    What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your grandfather (and yourself) with us. So sorry for your loss.

  4. This was really a beautiful tribute to a man who obviously knew how to deal with cocky youths! A story you definitely can say with great pride that you wrote it and that you wrote the truth.

  5. suemacarthur says:

    More young people in our world need a man like your Grandfather in there lives,
    I was Bless to have a Grandfather , much like yours, and my life like yours is the better for it
    wonderful blog, sorry for your loss

    • timkeen40 says:

      Thanks, Sue. I suspect most people who have turned out to live a well-adjusted life has had someone along the way to take the time to help him see the era of his ways. Fortunately, Grandpa was just one of many for me.


  6. Laura Best says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Tim. I’m so sorry for your loss. No matter how old our loved ones are when we lose them their passing leaves a void in our lives.

  7. granny1947 says:

    A beautiful post.
    I hope one of my grandkids have such good things to say about me one day.

  8. This is a very touching and special tribute to a great man. It is what isn’t said that touches us more deeply then what is said. He was a wise man. His imprint on your heart will be with you forever; that is, indeed, the best gift of all.

    May He Rest In Peace …!!!

    God Bless,

  9. Bodhirose says:

    Tears were in my eyes as I read the ending of your story, Tim. This is a loving story that shared a valuable lesson. What a humble man–what a great teacher, you were so fortunate to have a man such as he in your life.

    Rest in peace, Frank Pope.


    • timkeen40 says:

      Thank you so much. I was indeed fortunate. Now all I can do is hope that I can be the same kind of mentor to the children who grow up around me, although I feel a pale replica is the best I will ever achieve.


  10. Hugs Tim…what a great story, you made me cry. RIP Grandpa xoxo

  11. Debbie Adams says:

    I will take a heart-felt story over a poems any day of my life, and this story is no exception. I know someone who was just as you were in attitude when young, and still to this day at age 64. So you were very blessed to have had your wise Grandpa teach you a very valuable lesson that made you a better man today.
    I’m sure you have many treasured memories of your Grandpa, but you choose to share “a lesson learned.”which only shows how humble your are today.
    This story is a beautiful heart-felt read, and thank you for sharing, Tim.
    May your Grandpa rest in peace.

    • timkeen40 says:

      Being humbled only comes at the expense of being humbled, often many times over. It is true of me as well. What makes this one time so special, one that sticks out above all the others, is the way Grandpa never mentioned the incident again, not to me, or anyone else. It was all for my benefit. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your time with me.


  12. Lisa says:

    What a wonderful story that deserves to be read, though I’m sorry it’s under these circumstances. You have my sincere condolences.

  13. SidevieW says:

    a wonderful man, maybe he was also competitive, but in a very quiet way and that was how he got to be so fast

  14. Darlene says:

    A wonderful story about an amazing man. Thanks for sharing Tim. Brought tears to my eyes as I was reminded of my grandfather and father.

    • timkeen40 says:

      I am happy that you came to know just a little piece of this man I loved. I could write a thousand stories about him and still not do him full justice. Thanks for stopping by.


  15. jennygoth says:

    what a great grandfather you had didnt humiliate you but showed you a good lesson a very wise old man and a nice tribute to him here xxjen

  16. nursemyra says:

    A really lovely story

  17. rastelly says:

    Words are no substitute for action. I have never read a story that drove this home so throughly.

  18. Incredible story-telling I too was engaged through the entire story. Powerful lesson learned, your grandfather sounds like he was an amazing hard-working man. I grew up in NC while I did not live as a farmer I certainly do recall tobacco fields and such just reminded my a lot of where I grew up

  19. This brought tears to my eyes Tim.. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man.. You told your story well.. and His Pride I am sure is etched into every sentence you have written here of you being his Grandson just as you have etched your pride within every word that he is your grandfather ..

    • timkeen40 says:

      He was a special man to be sure, just a hardworking simple man who loved God and his family. When I have strayed in my life, it has always been his guidance that brought me back. And he always did it without saying a single word. He didn’t have to. I could just look at how he lived and know I was living wrong.

      Thanks for the comment.


  20. The Hook says:

    Wonderful share. Tim.

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