COLUMN: Granddad knew how to dish out the good advice

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 6:26 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My grandfather could always be trusted for his sound judgment. Everyone in the family knew that when Granddad made a decision, it would be the best of the choices to be considered and he or she would be foolish to disregard it. If he advised against going fishing, one would probably come back home empty-handed. As children, we thought that somewhere in the back of his head he had a store of secret information. We were confident that he knew things no one else knew.

There have been many times when I thought that everybody needs someone like that in their past or present life. Just the other day one of my neighbors told me that she was moving across country and into her daughter's house. Because both women live alone, she said it just makes sense.

Personally, I think it's a bad decision. I've known these two women for years. The daughter has a personality disorder. She's pleasant and easy to get along with as long as she takes her medications. Unfortunately, after a time, she stops taking her medicine, and she becomes hateful, irritable and temperamental. When that happens, she strikes out at anyone around her.

Because her mother loves her, she refuses to understand the way this disorder works. As long as I have known them, the pleasant relationship usually lasts about six months. There is no one in the mother's life who can tell her that she's making a bad mistake.

It's sad to encounter people both old and young who have no one to turn to when they have to make an important decision. The best you can do is sit and watch them turn from one direction to the other. You wish they could go into a quiet room, consult with a friend or family member and come out making the kind of choice that you can be sure will be beneficial.

A friend who has been married three times is about to embark on her fourth. I think she is probably making another bad choice, and I wish there were someone to warn her. I wish I could believe that in the absence of counsel that she could absolutely trust that she at least would question herself and find out why she makes such poor choices in mates. No one would call my friend a mindless twit. She's a successful businesswoman and has been for many years. But when it comes to choosing a mate, she's her own worst enemy.

I wish my grandfather were here to give her a good talking to. I've often thought about what it is that makes some people good decision-makers and drives other people to make poor choices. Granddad, I know, was not one to take anything lightly. He was slow and deliberate and took a long time to pore over things. He was a carpenter and bricklayer by trade, so he spent a lot of time alone. When you asked him a question, you could almost see the cogs moving in his brain before he gave you an answer. And the other thing was that he was a good listener. He didn't interfere when someone else was speaking. In other words, he heard you out.

Before he replied, you could tell that he had looked at all aspects of your situation. And what was more important was that he took the other person's character traits into consideration in his response. For example, his answer to my oldest sister would always begin with something like "With your tendency to speak before you think, if I were you ..." To me, he was likely to begin with "Considering your lack of patience, if I were you ..."

Because my family was matriarchal, with my great-grandmother carrying the biggest stick, Granddad's contemplative nature probably was the most effective tool of survival in his arsenal. Additionally, the woman was both his mother-in-law and his stepmother, and hers was the only opinion she ever felt had merit or was worthy of consideration. The fact that he always maintained his cool demeanor was evidence that he knew how to stay alive.

Still, I don't remember Granddad ever backing down from the family matron. I believe that what he did was simply think his way around her dominating nature. That strategy alone was enough to qualify him as a master adviser. When Father's Day comes around later this month, I'll remember Granddad and be glad.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at



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