Please welcome today’s guest writer (filling in for Sabrina Lee), Josh Betts. Josh graduated from Calvin College in 2013 with a degree in history. He currently is living in Grand Rapids with his wife Michal. He is a history buff, an avid board gamer, a follower of rap music, and a consumer of fine (and sometimes not-so-fine) whiskeys.
I recently had an interesting experience with my grandfather that got me thinking. Now, before I begin, I do have to say a few things about my Grandpa. I have noticed increasingly more as I get older how he seems to have mastered the art of contentment and how he never seems very stressed. While many people I know complain about their grandparents being intolerant, grumpy, or just hard to be around, my grandpa has never been that way. He is always happy to see his family and has never been taken aback by his grandchildren having black boyfriends, or not attending church, or chewing tobacco and smoking. He always seems happy when our Christmas also includes people who are a bit down-and-out and needed a family to join for the holidays. Anyone he meets he accepts with kind words and generosity. In this respect he is not only a very Christ-like man, but also very “with the times” as far as his accepting attitude goes.
However, an experience I recently had with him showed me he is not completely “with the times” and that is a good thing. It started when my phone rang (an actual call, not a text) with my grandmother’s name in the caller ID. I picked up with a cheery “Hi Grandma!” He sounded confused and said, “This is Grandpa…” I realized then that he was calling from a house phone. I have become so used to caller ID coming in from cell phones that I never thought the information on my phone could be incorrect.
He said he had no lunch plans and wondered if we wanted to meet at the cottage for lunch since it was a beautiful day. I agreed and said I’d be there around 11:00. “Great, I’ll bring some sandwiches and be there a little after 11:00” was his reply. That was it. No “What do you like on your sub?” or “Do you prefer Subway or Quiznos?” Just simply, “I’ll bring sandwiches.”
My mind immediately thought, “What sandwich will he bring? What if it’s not what I want?” I realized soon that he was from a different time. A time when people weren’t accustomed to asking if you require vegetarian, gluten-free, or whole grains. Given the chance to answer, I suppose I would have asked for my sub to be on whole wheat bread, but this thought likely didn’t cross his mind. He would get sandwiches and I would eat what he brought.
A few things got in the way of my plans, so pretty soon I realized I was a little late. I reached for my phone to text him that, but then realized he wouldn’t get a text, nor would he answer a cell phone if I called since he doesn’t use one. This spurred a very twenty-first-century anxiety and my mind was racing to somehow get him this crucial bit of information, lest he be in distress about why I wasn’t there on time. I soon realized there was no way to get him this info, so I raced to the car and drove as fast as I could. Halfway to the lake house, I realized he wouldn’t be bothered by the lack of information. If I wasn’t there when he arrived, he would just wait in his car until I got there in a few minutes and could unlock the house.
I got there about twenty minutes late and his car wasn’t there. “Oh no,” I thought. “What if he waited for me and then got tired of waiting?” He doesn’t have a smart phone or anything to entertain himself in the car so maybe he got bored and left… This thought was quickly put aside when I realized that twenty minutes of waiting without stimulation was only a long time by twenty-first-century standards. He would not have been bothered.
When he arrived a few minutes later, we ate our sandwiches and talked. I shared with him some of my thoughts from the morning and how silly it all seemed once I realized he wasn’t the least bit worried about those types of details. He thought about it and just said “Yeah, I haven’t kept up with the times.” In retrospect, it is strange to think of how many times I felt anxiety over something he wasn’t the least bit worried about. While keeping up with the times is necessary and important for people my age, perhaps we, as a society, are losing the art of chilling out. That is a lesson I needed to learn from a man of a different time.