A Lesson From Granddaddy

I was going through my Twitter account today and tried to thank my new followers for joining my network. I don’t want to be stuffy and impersonal, accumulate followers, and never interact with them. I intend to be personable and approachable.

I feel that the skill of networking to be helpful to build a successful career. For this reason, I use social networking to contact other authors, historians, and individuals within the publishing industry that I can approach at any hour for advice, a merry laugh, and learn by sitting back and observe.

I apply this same method to my LinkedIn account.

This is not a novel concept. Some of you, if not all of you, have used social networking in a job search, a quest for a reliable editor or cover artist, to find an agent or publisher to contact, or follow a favorite author, poet, or artist. But, I want to share with you where I received this lesson.

As a boy, I witnessed my grandmother’s fight with cancer. To pass the time, my grandfather researched the family history. My grandfather traced the family back to one of the oldest colonial families in Massachusetts that settled in Essex and Rowley in 1641.

During his search in to the family history, he discovered that one of our ancestors had died in the defense of the town of Sudbury on April 21, 1676 during the King Philip’s War. This Indian attack was three miles away from the house. This moment, standing in my grandfather’s study, is when my love for history began. Thirty-three years later, I would decide to write what would become The Metacom Saga.

I am tearing up as I am writing this. Austin Harrison taught me what it means to be a man. I developed not only my love for history from my grandfather. He was my father-figure. He was a smart man. He was one developer of radar that was developed for the bombers during World War II. Grandaddy was an innovator of television when it was in its infancy. This man taught me my work ethic, and he taught me the importance of family. He and my grandmother were blessed with eight children, and over the years my grandfather would become the gentle and kind patriarch of an extensive family.

He and I became very close as I helped him tend to the extensive property and sell the Christmas trees. He would give me the shoulder to shoulder time that a boy needed. Not once did he speak to me in anger, but showed by example, even when didn’t realize I was watching and learning.

During my grandmother’s last days, my grandfather rarely left his wife’s side. What I observed was that Mr. Harrison made it a point to ask the name of every nurse and hospice worker that cared for my grandmother as shifts and schedules changed. He would thank each person for every minor thing that they did to make my grandmother comfortable.

Many years later, when my mother’s illness had taken a similar spiral, she was placed on life support. The decision was suddenly placed upon my brother and I to turn the support off. There were three different choices of treatment. No matter what the path taken, she would still At this point she was brain dead. Do we keep her alive, or do we let her go?

My brother and I agonized for hours as the decision was debated and family were called to come say their goodbyes.

As the hospital staff worked to keep my mother comfortable, I made it a point to thank each one. My aunt picked up on it. The ‘thank you’ that affected me the most came at the moment that I spoke the words on behalf of the family that we felt that it was best to remove the life support.

I stepped out to cry. I had to keep it together long enough to decide. I had to be strong for my grandfather, who even surrounded by family, seemed so broken. I needed the release.

As I paced in the hall outside of the room, the junior doctor who had been attending to my mother. Earlier I had noticed her back out of the room as she deferred to the senior physician. She seemed to be emotionally affected. My mother must have been one of her first patients that she lost.

I spoke to her as she passed, and it surprised her that I addressed her by her first name. I had observed her full name on her security badge during one time she checked my mother’s chart. She said that she was sorry for my loss, but I interrupted her, addressing her by name, I thanked her for everything that she had done. Nodding, she tearfully turned and continued down the hall.

This post has somewhat taken a slight detour than I intended. But I think I have still made my point. From this personal story could you find the Easter Egg? What was I doing?


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