Finding My Voice — Grandparents Day Stories
by Aaron Larsen
Editor’s note: In honor of Grandparents Day, Generations United is collecting stories of memorable moments with a grandparent.
When I began living with Granny and Grandpa Grit during the Great Recession, my passion for music was still alive. But due to the whirlwind of changes in my life at that time, my self-confidence was severely lacking.
Consequently, I’d tip-toe past Grandpa Grit down the stairs, gently closing the door behind me so no one could hear me sing. It takes courage to sing in front of someone you love and admire. Before the stroke paralyzed half of his body and stole his voice, Grandpa spent decades playing bass guitar and singing in local country bands. Just the thought of him shooting me a critical look terrified me.
After my music session, I would creep up the stairs and make a sharp left turn down the hall towards my bedroom. Typically, I was able to escape to my room without being noticed.
One day, however, as I crept up the stairs, I noticed that the TV was off. That was different. Maybe Gramps went to bed, I hoped. At the top of the stairs, I shot a quick glance toward his chair and froze. Our eyes met. “I’m doomed!” I thought. He gently wagged his finger toward the bookcase across the room in front of him.
My eyes scanned the bookcase from top to bottom. There I saw it. A scraggly old blue spiral binder. “Is this what you want?” I asked. Grandpa nodded his head.
“Tis doo” he said, patting the arm of the chair. He wanted me to sit down. After I was seated, he opened the first page of the music book and began to sing. It was “Big, Bad Leroy Brown”. After the first verse, he nodded at me to join him. Together we sang over thirty songs in that chair. When we were finished, he patted me on the shoulder. I felt renewed. Grandpa actually liked my singing! But there was more to it than that.
When we experience big changes in our life, it’s easy to slip into a murky swamp of self-doubt. Rock solid pieces of our identity turn to mush. In those times, it’s critical to have someone in your life who can remind you of who you really are.
I was meant to sing and there was no use squandering my talents for fear of criticism. That night I thanked God for Grandpa Grit and marveled at how a man robbed of his voice had helped me rediscover mine.
Aaron Larsen is the Founder of GrandparentsAcademy.com, the world’s first online academy for grandparents. He also serves as the Digital Engagement Manager for Encore.org’s Generation to Generation campaign, which is mobilizing one million older adults to help young people thrive.