My Grandfather was one of the most influential people in my life. He has been a continual source of inspiration even though he is no longer with me.
He taught me many things, but one thing sticks out imparticular: “if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well.” This idea has served me well in my personal, professional, and school life.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my father, but I was a Grandpa’s girl through and through.
Learning the value of work
We have the expressions of Momma’s boys and daddy’s girls. And while I agree that some girls are a Daddy’s girl, I have always been a Grandpa’s girl.
Summer is one of my favorite times of the year. The sun is warm, the crops are growing, and the world seems to move at a slower pace. When I was younger I loved running through the sprinklers and getting ice cream. Another favorite memory is riding in the tractor with “papa.” A not so favorite memory was throwing hay bales, although I was lucky enough not to have to do that every summer.
My grandpa showed me what it meant to work hard. He was a school teacher and taught science in High School. Specifically, Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, and other life sciences. He was also a driver’s education teacher and a farmer. Very involved in his church and community, he served as mayor of his town and was always actively engaged in service.
Regardless of where he was working, he always took the time and put in the effort to do it right. He was never one to cut corners, and the effects of his work are still evident today.
Memories of working
When I was younger, I remember riding with grandpa to check water meters, to turn on the manual sprinklers in the town park, and one summer we even painted the community center and installed voting booths. I helped him clean the park bathrooms, and in the winter, I loved riding with him when he snowplowed the roads.
One of my favorite things was sitting on his lap to drive the truck, the tractor, or the lawnmower. And I thought it was pretty cool when I was older to drive the four-wheeler and some of the other equipment by myself.
I loved how he included me, and regardless of what we were doing, he always taught me the right way of doing it. Even if I didn’t particularly like a task, I was never alone. We would work alongside each other, and I always felt good when a project was finished.
Why it’s important to take the time to do things right
There were probably many reasons why my grandfather wanted to teach me about doing things right the first time, but a few seem particularly relevant to me.
- If you do things right the first time, you don’t have to go back and fix them later.
- When you work on things, whatever it is that you are doing has your name on it. Your name was given to you by your family, and it’s important to honor those who came before you.
- There is a sense of accomplishment from a job well done, and it is worth celebrating.
- When you work hard and do quality work, there are more fruits to enjoy from your labor.
- Taking the time to learn how to do things well, even though it may be slower at first, will allow you to be more proficient in the future.
Value of taking breaks
My grandpa worked hard, but he also valued taking breaks. One of my favorite memories was sitting with him in the backyard in the shade of a tree and having an ice cold coke. The lawn would be freshly mowed and the smell of the grass and dust still clung in the air, the sprinklers would be going and the tic-tic-ticking sound was so relaxing. Sometimes we would talk, sometimes we would just sit.
Time took on a different meaning when I was with grandpa. He always had time to talk to friends and neighbors. He always had time to help, and he almost always fixed everything himself.
Work was always broken up. He would drive us to town to get ice cream, or to fill up our mugs at the gas station with soda. Or, when the local café was open, we would drive up and get a snack and talk to the other farmers. These little breaks were so much fun and made it easier to get back to work afterward.
At school, at work, at play
Because my grandfather was a teacher, there was always an expectation to do well in school. He had a way to make learning fun too. I remember sitting at the kitchen table and he would get out his old microscope. We would look at all sorts of things. Bugs, grass, leaves… He would even prick his finger and pull out strands of hair so I could see real cells. Every moment was a teaching moment, and he taught me the value of continuous learning.
Working with grandpa on the farm, even my limited experience, was a great foundation for when I would enter the workforce. I understood that doing well was my responsibility and I was accountable for my actions. If I wanted to succeed, it was up to me to make it happen.
My grandfather had a very sly sense of humor. He was known as a practical joker at the High School where he taught, and he would always interject funny things into a conversation. He also made time every year for family vacations. Some people live to work, my grandfather worked to live.
We would go as a family to Southern Utah and go four-wheeling in the sand dunes or go hiking or explore ghost towns. My grandparents had a camper and I always looked forward to our trips. Life is short, he taught me to take the time to enjoy it.
Men can do dishes
So, men can do dishes. Really, they can, and they should. Every night after dinner my grandfather would stand side by side with my grandma and do the dishes with her. Sometimes I would take her place and just me and grandpa would do them together. That kind gesture every night, was a wonderful way to show appreciation for his wife to whom he had been married to for over 50 years.
I look back with fondness as he performed this ritual every night. My grandmother never had to wake up to a sink full of dirty dishes. She had him trained well.
If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well
I am so grateful to my grandpa for teaching me the value of hard work. It has made me who I am today. I’m not suggesting things need to be perfect, believe me, perfectionism has its own set of associated problems. However, taking the time and putting in the extra effort to do things well, pays dividends in the future.
A job well done is always worth it.