A Little Bit Like Grandpa

On one of my family history blogs, The Family Kalamazoo, I was chatting with family history blogger and blog friend Amy Cohen (check out her amazing work at Brotmanblog: A Family Journey) and I was trying to give her an idea of my grandfather’s personality. I directed her to the first poem in my chapbook Kin Types, “Advice from My Forebears.” I reminded her about two lines in it: “If they come to your door, feed them. Then send / them on their way.” This particular advice sounds exactly like my grandfather’s philosophy.

Amy said, “There’s something both soft and tough in it, probably like your Grandpa.” Amy was right. That was Grandpa.

What does it mean to be both soft and tough? In some ways I am both those things. I am uber-soft about animals, as you know, and a well-directed commercial about almost anything can leave me in tears. I am the same way about children’s issues that I am about animals–especially foster children and adoptees.

But I do have a little bit of a pull yourself up by your bootstraps iron somewhere inside, too. I lose my patience with people who I view as too soft on themselves. I don’t mean people with problems like mental illness, addictions, anything like that. I mean people who give in to their emotions excessively (IMO), but always when it is about themselves.

I didn’t intend this to turn into a vent, but I guess when you follow a thread into yourself, you find out what you don’t like, as well as what you do like.

I don’t necessarily like this aspect of myself. But I’m not sure that I don’t value it in some respect, also, because it means that I keep myself going, no matter what, I never give up trying to be a helper where truly needed, and I’m a hard worker like Grandpa.

That said, it isn’t up to me to decide when someone is being excessively about themselves. I can extricate myself from the relationship completely, or at least distance myself. But I need to stop judging or labeling and just do what I need to do. In other words, I need to send myself on my way ;).

I have a few writing goals this year. I hope I can accomplish even a quarter of what I plan haha. My submission acceptance goal remains the same as for 2019, and I already have three, so I have hopes that I will meet it once again. This year also will be a year of helping a bit with the wedding planning (for daughter and her fiance).


Perry and Sloopy Anne have been lying together on the bed for hours every day. So I can’t make the bed. Not a bad reason not to make a bed, huh? Sorry the lighting is so poor in there, but aren’t they cute?

Let’s make this week one that really counts!!! XO


Filed under #amrevising, #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Cats and Other Animals, Family history, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing Talk

70 responses to “A Little Bit Like Grandpa

  1. Amy

    Wow, I didn’t know you had another blog! Thanks for the mention. 🙂 I think we must have a lot in common besides the interest in family history. I also am an animal nut (as you know, we have three cats) and cannot watch anything where an animal is hurt or lost or abused. I skip right past your sad animal posts on FB. I am a softie about children also (though I was pretty strict with my own). But most people think I am tough in many ways. I rarely cry in public and tend not to talk about things that will get me emotional. And I have little patience for whiners and those who expect others to wait on them.

    • Yes, I think we have a lot in common. I don’t like to show emotion in public either, and I can also be pretty stoic about a lot of things. A lot of people in my family are like this even when family members pass away. My brother can’t understand it at all. In those cases, he wears his heart on his sleeve and gets mad that other people don’t show enough emotion. People are different heh.

  2. A balance between these two aspects is necessary for us all. As a lifetime member of the caring professions I knew there were times when we had to be tough.

  3. So glad to see Perry and Sloopy Anne spending time together peacefully! <3

  4. I’m the same. I worked in Human Resource so I learned that fairness meant you had to treat people equally no matter what their story was. I also learned that people fabricated sad stories so I tend to be skeptical of people. Kids and animals do not fabricate so my heart is much softer there. Also, they cannot help themselves. In natural disasters, my heart goes out to everyone but I worry a lot about the animals affected.

    • I have met manipulative children, but there is always a good reason for it, if you know what I mean. And animals might lie or beg, but they don’t manipulate. Their lies are simple and hilarious. I am exactly like you about the natural disasters because I know that the animals are the last to be thought of, the last to be taken care of, and sustain so much of the harm. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t worry about and mourn for the people. My mother actually can’t understand why anybody would volunteer at an animal shelter when so many people need help. But the animals truly are the “least” among us–meaning the most vulnerable. And besides some of us are much better with animals than with people ;). It’s good to do what you are good at.

  5. I think I’m similar to you as well. I’m moved to help anyone or any creature that is defenseless, but I hold back from “speaky wheels,” people who are always focused on themselves, what they need from others. I’ve made the mistake of going down that rabbit hole with a few people in my early days in social media. It burns when you realize that, in some cases, they’re just trying to see how many people respond to them. I feel manipulated, so these days, I scroll on by … unless there’s a cute animal pic attached 😉 I love that pic of Perry and Sloopy Anne. We have the same situation at home 😉

    • Yes, the defenselessness! That is really it. It’s that protective nature that demands helping those who are the most vulnerable.
      I hear you on those rabbit holes. I’ve also done it in real life, but no longer. I’m not hugely in love with humankind in general, so why would I want to wrap myself up in problems that people have brought on themselves and then whine about? Been there, done that. I used to get pulled into the problems of my students, for instance. Maybe if I was still teaching, I still would, so for my blood pressure it’s better I am no longer teaching haha.
      Yeah, our kitties are pretty cute, aren’t there?!!!

      • That’s way social work practice was a bust for me. I couldn’t set boundaries properly and always got caught up in the drama instead of keeping a cool head. It is why I wound up working with data 😉

  6. I can relate! I spent my working life in education and latterly, counselling. I learnt so much about human nature 🙂 For me there is an intolerance around excessive sentimentality – those people who describe themselves as ’empathetic’ but who are in fact simply sentimental over their own emotions and emotional reactions. They are the vampires who suck our time and energy and as the years have passed my intolerance level has racked up. I’m also okay with my intolerance level being high in this case – It took me years to realise it’s not my job to be there for everyone or to ‘save’ everyone 🙂 The stuff we learn about the world and ourselves is endlessly fascinating to me – I love people who are open and learning and changing. I love children and animals – and my heart breaks for those who don’t. And congratulations on meeting those publication goals for last year. Rock on!!

    • Pauline, yes, vampires! I literally don’t have the energy any more for it. It wears me out so quickly, and then I don’t have the energy to do what I need and want to do. Seriously, if I hear one more narcissist say she is an empath I’m going to go lie down in the garden and cover myself with worms or something hahaha. What you said: “I love people who are open and learning and changing. YES! Wonderful. Thanks so much, my dear. XOXO

  7. I totally agree with Pauline. No time for those vampires! 🧛‍♀️

  8. That’s a first. A good reason not to make the bed (haha).
    And I share your feelings about people who are too self-absorbed. When I’m around them I find myself muttering under my breath, “Me, me, me.”

  9. I find that the older I get, the more I notice some not-so-lovely aspects of my character, e.g. impatience, a certain amount of laziness… But also – the more I’m able to accept some of these ah… quirks… and try to do better next time. There’s always a next time, right? At least as long as we’re here!
    Here’s a teensy sliver about my own granddad (My mom’s father. I knew him as Zaidy, a Yiddish word meaning grandpa). I didn’t know my dad’s dad.

  10. A great reason not to make the bed. I’m with you on those folks who are mired in their own problems. I just want to say, “move on. You are not helping yourself and certainly, I don’t want to read this stuff.” I too am a softy for animals. Yes, let’s make the week great.

  11. They are indeed cute! And I like that idea for not making the bed.
    We tried to change the sheets yesterday, and Charly refused to leave her place in the bed, so we had to make the bed around her!
    I like that you can see some of your grandfather in you.
    I thought my paternal grandfather was the best man who ever lived – I never heard him say a bad word about anyone, but then, he didn’t really have to. My grandmother said it for him!

    • hahaha Charly!!! What a funny girl. I can see you trying to make it like in a hospital ;).
      I laughed so abruptly and loud at your last comment. So so funny.

  12. I like your distinction between tough and hard. We should try not to be hard or hardened, but sometimes being firm and resolute with certain people is required.

    Love your excuse for not making the bed! I don’t think I could bring myself to use it, even if I still had cats – I’m such a stickler for a made bed (and yes, all the pictures in my house hang perfectly straight🙄).

    • Right. I don’t like the idea of being hardened because that would mean that nobody can get in, you know? And it would probably mean that one would cease to care about kids and animals and whatnot. You crack me. I can see that! The gardener doesn’t like crooked pix either. But he is fine with the bed now that we let it go for the kitties. All those years of making the bed. Who knew that it wasn’t necessary hahahaha.

  13. LOVED the post/LOVED the cats/LOVED KinTypes

  14. If you make the bed, you will mess up their well-formed butt grooves. You don’t want to do that, do you?

  15. I understand exactly about the soft and tough. I suppose I’m a bit that way, and daughters definitely are.
    Love the photo of your babies on the bed. I’ve had many days when I couldn’t make the bed for the same reason. 🙂

  16. Val

    It sounds like you take after your grandfather (in many ways). I sometimes wonder in what ways I’ve inherited traits from my grandparents. I never knew my maternal grandfather (he died a year before I was born) and he was an orphan, so that one’s a mystery, and my dad’s parents always seemed rather remote – particularly my grandpa who was rather austere… on the other hand, he had a light, jokey side, that he passed on to my dad – and my dad passed that on to me. But no way have I inherited the austerity.

    I also – eventually – lose patience with people who are too self-centred, but I always keep in mind that I used to be like that myself (mostly because I felt neglected by a lot of people socially – most of that changed when I began getting to know people online. Til then I’d always been rather socially inept.) and I try to bear in mind that we can’t always know why people are like that: sometimes they’re ill, sometimes they’ve not had any time to themselves, sometimes it’s a personality trait that just can’t be changed. I have a friend I’ve fallen out with countless times as she’s very self-focussed and can become whiney but, providing my contact with her is only occasional, I’m okay with her (and she with me!) and we’re still friends.

    Love the cats. 🙂 x

    • I’m on my iPad and I’d like to come back respond when I’m at the computer. I hope I don’t forget. XO

    • I do take after Grandpa in many ways, including our really good early childhood memories. I’m glad your austere grandfather had that light jokey side so you knew he was human ;)!
      I hear you about being socially inept and how that can make people think someone is self-centered. It can make someone seem aloof, for instance. I am talking though about people who whine all over the place about themselves and have no clue anybody else exists. I don’t think you were ever like that, Val!!! So lovely that you and your friend can still be close–and shows that you have a tolerant side!
      Thank you re my kitties! I know they are so cute ;). xo

  17. The cats are darling…such a good reason not to make the bed! You will be busy with your daughter’s wedding, but it will be fun as well. Your helping hands will surely be needed. 🙂

    • I feel more anxiety over the wedding than I would like. The cost of everything! It will probably all work out fine because they are being very careful but at this initial stage I’m a little freaked out.

      • One step at a time…best way to go with the wedding planning. Three of our adult children are married and they all got married within two years’ time! Once they know the venue and the number of people, it seems to come together. The hardest part was creating the list of who to invite…the number makes a difference for everything else. Our youngest son will be the last one of our children to marry. He is just nineteen. 🙂 We have some time! Good luck with the planning…it is supposed to be a happy time for the mother of the bride!

  18. That generation had to be tough – they endured a World War, as did the generation before them. It created terrible scars and damage – but the one thing about the folks from your Grandpa’s generation, was they generally didn’t waste time on self pity. They’d learnt the hard way that when times were tough, you had to set to and sort yourself out… Pray to God that we and our children aren’t forged in the same fires…

    • Ah, so true about the self pity. It seems as if every generation is getting more and more self pitying! A friend wrote something about a retail employee who had a support troll at the cash desk because it was Christmas and people are so awful and she needed comfort. HAHAHA, I used to work retail Christmas for years, and I never thought of pitying myself for it. For Pete’s sake. But i was way more self pitying than my grandparents FOR SURE. And still am. I hear you on that prayer . . . . Thanks, Sarah!

  19. And congratulations on your excellent start to your writing goals, Luanne:). Here’s hoping it’s a great year for all of us!

  20. Yes, they’re cute!! Congrats on the 3 acceptances. I’ve submitted twice so far. Fingers crossed. Best wishes for a very writingly (?) year! 🙂🙌🏽🙂

  21. Pingback: Sunday Post – 19th January, 2020 #Brainfluffbookblog #SundayPost | Brainfluff

  22. Those look like lovely reasons not to make the bed!

  23. I love your grandpa’s philosophy. And congratulations on the wedding!

    • My grandfather was such a character–and a good person. Thank you re the congrats. We found a venue yesterday so now I can RELAX a bit as it was very stressful. The next hardest part is going to be to find a rabbi and a priest who will perform the ceremony together! (ok, just typing that makes me anxious all over again)

  24. It’s a tender topic, because one doesn’t want to be insensitive, but some people need to get over themselves. While some are too dedicated to others’ needs and too quick to acquiesce to the will of others, some are miserable sods who really need to get out of their own feelings and focus on something/someone else for a change.
    Martyrs and Woe Is Me’ers are two types I avoid.
    Good post, Luanne. Really good.

  25. Catchy!!! This kind of make me feel to read more n more!!!!

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