The best part…

…of Thanksgiving was talking to my grandfather.

You know that feeling, when you're in a really great conversation?  The feeling that the true you is finally present?  The feeling that you can say anything and the other person will understand you, even if you don't say it perfectly?  I could tell from the look in his eyes, that was the type of conversation we were having.  His eyes sparkled with presence and vibrance.

He talked about his days at Oxford, how he wanted to change the world.  He talked about what it was like to take classes from C.S. Lewis, and how he was completely dumbfounded as to why he is such a hit nowadays.  He talked about the fact that the purpose of his education was to learn more about life and about the world.  To get at truth, not to get ready for a profession.

We talked about String Theory, atheism, and flat universes.  We talked about how Scottish philosophers influenced the formation of our country and how they were some of the best (Hume, for one).  We talked about how he hated technology, but could see the internet as a useful tool for discussion and finding others of like mind.

I held myself a bit reserved, because I can't completely agree with him on things like atheism, but I can see how and why he believes the way he does.  So I contented myself to showing him how well I could understand him rather than assert my own opinions.  We'll save that for later.  I need him to know I understand his point of view, so that he'll put more stock in mine.

He was so happy the whole evening.  I felt absolutely honored that I could give him that.  That I could make him feel like himself.  He hasn't been doing very good healthwise lately, and he's had to rely on other people more than he's used to.  I've seen him sort of deflate a little around the edges, and it was wonderful to see the fire in his eyes again.

When he had to leave, and he wouldn't have if my grandmother hadn't reminded him, he hugged me and told me that I was "a joy to him" and that we should continue our discussions.

I felt really good about this Thanksgiving, and I will always look back on it fondly for what I was able to give to him.  Well, that and the yams. πŸ˜‰

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  1. Spending time with our elders is truly something to be thankful for! You are so blessed to have him in your life. And you are right, it is not important to impart your "wisdom" on him. That can come later. It is more important to be there and cherish moments such as that!

  2. It was interesting because a friend of the family was also there, and she is very *not* atheist, and almost wanted to get into a discussion about that, but I steered it away from that. I wanted that discussion to be fulfilling for him, if you argue too closlely after hearing a point, people will often believe you never really got their point at all. I felt him come alive in that discussion, and that's the feeling I wanted to keep going throughout the night. I think I did a pretty good job of it. πŸ™‚

  3. That's wonderful, Lex, that you had such a conversation with your Grandfather. How wonderful to hear from his lips that you were 'a joy to him'.
    It's a gift you gave him. For him to have the privilege and opportunity to share of himself and to be truly heard. Period. No agenda. I bet he felt loved and honored by his granddaughter.

  4. What a great grandfather. Both of mine were in the Ku Klux Klan. Can't imagine having that conversation with them.

  5. Awww.. that's so sweet πŸ™‚ – and he was taught by C.S. Lewis! Wow! πŸ™‚ Gxx

  6. Yeah, people always take him as arrogant when he talks about Oxford, and he talks about it a lot. But I told him that it was okay, because that experience is part of who he is, and it sounds like it was a large part. And so he *should* talk about it. πŸ™‚ I really feel like I helped him that night. πŸ™‚

  7. Well, my grandpa's not all shiny and happy. He's got his problems. He's very selective of who he will show affection to. Half of his children never got any. But a lot of people focus too much on the black parts, I was glad to help bring out the gold. πŸ™‚

  8. Yeah, he said CS Lewis was *not* a very good teacher. He had a lot going on in his brain, but verbal communication was not his strength. πŸ˜‰ But it was cool that he took classes from him, classes with less than 10 people even!

  9. ❀ You didn't tell me about this! That's awesome πŸ™‚ I got to tell my godmother that I've gone atheist, so I envy your conversation πŸ™‚

  10. How did that go over? Wasn't it her daughter that you were just godmother to?

  11. Thanks for sharing this. I've only one grandparent with us in this world and I'd never had any "real" conversations with them because of the language barrier–my mother's mom once took my hand and looked into my eyes and said "learn chinese, ok? then you can come back and we can liao tian." And the next day I got on a plane back to America. And a few years later she died, and I still haven't added anything to my Chinese vocabulary. I think about all the history that I just totally missed out on because I could never really ask them about stuff–stories about running all over China to escape the Japanese, or the Communists, or all kinds of things… and there's a half-barrier with my parents, even, since their native language is Chinese and mine is very much English. So it's always … I'm always fascinated by friends talking about the stories their grandparents have to tell… how wonderful it must be to be able to talk to them about more than "sure, I'll have a little more rice." haha. String theory! CS Lewis! you are lucky =)

  12. It is really neat hearing about the past from someone you're related to, and someone who was actually there. I'm sorry that the language barrier keeps you from enjoying that. I'll do what I can by proxy!

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