It is around June of 2004 and my paternal grandfather are engaged in the only fight we’ll ever have.
“I am going to New Jersey to get my son and take him home.”
Grandpa’s blue eyes are frosty and there is an edge I have heard used in reference to others and a familial familiarity.
“It is not going to happen. He can’t fly now and you’re in no condition to get him.”
Dad has sworn that you have never seen anyone really get angry unless you have seen his father.
My grandfather is almost 91 and he is waving his cane at me and issuing a stream of invectives that proves my father was right when he said grandpa could go for five minutes without repeating himself.
We go back and forth and then he grudgingly accepts that I am correct. Dad is a little short of his 61st birthday and has been hospitalized for months courtesy of a heart attack and multiple other issues.
“I told you they never get so old that you stop worrying.”
“I know grandpa, I see.”
Hadn’t thought about that moment for years but it got pulled out because of an experience the younger Mr. Wilner had.
He is fine, but I am on fire on his behalf.
Some people took some cheap shots and he handled it perfectly. That provides significant comfort but it doesn’t take all of the fire or edge out of me.
A Grandfather’s Advice
The younger Mr. Wilner consulted me prior to the events that led my current disposition and I shared the wisdom of the generations.
When he asked for my thoughts I laid them out with a beginning, middle and end. “You say these three things and no more. Don’t react. Keep a poker face. They’ll try to break you, just don’t.”
We went back and forth for another moment and I told him about how my grandfather had once told me not to let my temper push me into making bad decisions.
“Your paternal grandfather and your other great-grandfather would say the same thing. Be smart. Be patient. You have got this.”
He was and he did. So damn proud of him.
Eighteen hours later some of what was said sunk into my head and recognition of how dirty it was is what fired me up.
Not going to do anything about it. Not going to tell him how I feel because it is not about me and I think it is mostly settled in his head.
No reason to stir it up there and no reason to say anything to those who took the cheap shot. They are dumb and delusional so nothing I could say would have meaning.
It wouldn’t change anything and I wouldn’t feel better.
Attitude And Ability
There was a time when I thought there was no connection between attitude and ability.
People were who they were and though practice could improve certain skills some would never change because of limitations that made things beyond our reach.
For example, no matter how hard I tried I wasn’t going to be able to play in the NBA. I didn’t have the height or skill set to compensate for the lack of it.
Add in that I didn’t start playing seriously until I had reached an age where I wasn’t going to be able to make up the time and skill others who had started earlier had.
At least not without being gifted with more natural ability or more height and neither one of those were in supply.
But not everything has age restrictions that limit our chances of success. There are things we can do that absolutely aren’t tied in such a manner.
It is why I pushed back hard against someone who tried to tell me that older people were unlikely to be good at social media.
I asked them to read an old post and get back to me about how what I said there isn’t part of a relevant discussion today.
The question was simple, Why Do We Ask People To Subscribe To Our Blogs?
The response I got back was limited but I knew from the stats they probably hadn’t spent much time reading. I knew from the conversation they really didn’t know much about me and that they would use the cheap shot of age to try to make a point.
It was dirty and demeaning but I didn’t flinch or break a sweat. Gave him the same sort of answer I suggested the younger Mr. Wilner give and the same poker face.
Might have been more fun to yell and tell them off but it wouldn’t have had the same lasting effect and that’s what I really wanted.
It is easy to give in to anger, especially when you have grounds to let anger turn to rage but it rarely works in your favor.
Lao Tzu was and is still correct. Still, I’d like to share my real thoughts with those that went after my kid.
I won’t because grandpa was right about them never being too old for you to stop being concerned and the downside of letting your anger push you into bad decisions.