The Best Classroom

 “The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.”

–Andy Rooney

Tell me about an old person who taught you something, by word or example, and what you learned.

5 thoughts on “The Best Classroom”

  1. My Grandad, my Mum’s Dad taught me several things that I will always remember, no matter how long I live.

    A tall, thin, clean shaven man, he worked as a coal miner until he retired. After he retired he worked part time at a Working Men’s club, looking after the snooker tables, until he got to old to carry on.

    My Mum’s parents were there all through my life growing up, and they’ve probably been hanging around checking in on my sister and I over the years since they passed.

    Well at least my Grans have because when my sister’s daughters were babies she heard two women, over the baby monitor, cooing over babies and saying weren’t they lovely. When my sister went to check there was nobody upstairs. Over the years we’ve all said from time to time, that my neice Jess is channeling her Grandmothers, and my late mother. Usually when she asks about something that she can’t possibly know.

    When I was young I was caught out on a number of occasions having gone to my Grandparents.

    On one occasion, in junior school I popped to their house one lunchtime, telling them Mum hadn’t given me any money for lunch, a fib I got caught out on when Gran had words with Mum.

    On a separate occasion, while very young, I went from my home to my Grandparents, a journey of about 2 miles, which involved crossing several major roads. My Grandparents brought me home to the decidely unwelcome reception from Mum.

    My Dad’s father died well before I was born and so I never knew him, my Mum’s dad was therefore the one that I spent time with and he taught me how to play chess, how to fish and how to make flies for fishing.

    I remember learning to play chess with him. He had a small metal chessboard, about 6 inches aquare which stood on a base, a bit like a cake stand. The small chess figures were magnetic and we would play each other using. He passed away just about the same time that I started at comprehensive school and never got to see me playing chess for the school, or even playing against a friend who for a time played for Wales. He never saw the trophy I got for winning a chess competition in one of my last years at school.

    I remember the home-made rig he had for making flies, the small metal jaws fastened with a small nut-like affair that tightened the jaws, holding the hook securely while feathers and cotton were attached, making what would hopefully be a tasty morsel for any passing fish.

    I remember the one time I went fishing with him. He never caught fish to eat himself, at least not that I ever saw. All the trout he caught were cooked and fed to his dog Judy.

    One day he agreed to take me fishing. He showed me how to attach the fly to the line, taught me how to cast the line and then, along with several other fishermen, we stood on the wall of the resevoir he’d taken me and waited for the fish to bite, and bite they did.

    I think we ended up with three trout that day. Each put into the satchel he kept his catch in. That day I learned just how long it took for a fish to die when it’s taken out of water, and it isn’t quick.

    The satchel at my feet twitched as the poor creature struggle to breath. That young me didn’t know better, and thinking that they were helping to hasten the fishes passing, kicked the back several times until movement ceased.

    Fishing is not something I’ve done as an adult, I’ve never felt the need. I don’t see the point in killing any creature unless there is a very good reason for doing so. Putting an animal out of its misery, yes. Killing for food, yes. Killing in self-defence, yes. Killing for entertainment, no.

    Although he probably never intended to teach me the lessons, through that trip, my Grandad taught me to appreciate other living creatures and the natural world around us.

    Lessons that I will never ever forget.

      1. Thanks Laura. He was.
        It’s been a while since I’ve contributed to one of the prompts. The words just seemed to flow with this one though.

    1. Hi Jenna

      It’s so good to see your response.. I’ve missed seeing you on the roadmap.
      Your father sounds much like mine. I was the oldest while he was still a “poor country preacher”, so gardening, fishing and hunting same game in the woods behind our home to help feed the family! Whenever we moved he would find where the best fishing was for Sunfish, Perch, trout or bass and would always take me and my brother along for the outing.

      I hope I will see more of you here.

  2. One day I was sitting on the back porch with Grandma, and she was doing crochet. I said, “Grandma, someday will you teach me how to do that?”

    She replied, “Why not now?” She went inside to the sewing room and came back within a few minutes carrying a large ball of thick yarn and several big, long needles.
    Grandma sat close beside me and showed me how to do the chain stick and the single crochet, and within an hour I was on my way.

    At the time, I was thrilled, but after all these years I wonder and believe that my dear Grandma was waiting for my question, and that she had the yarn and the needles ready. I was seven then, but I learned to crochet and also how to share back then.

    Even now I crochet from time to time, making blankets,
    clothes for my own children, tote bags – mostly with my own patterns. Holding a crochet hook in my right hand and assisting with the left, I can reach awesome places and strengthen the many gifts that came to me from my dear Grandma Jennie.

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