Health & Well-Being

Life Lessons Our Grandparents Taught Us

An unknown author once said, “Grandchildren are a grandparent’s link to the future. Grandparents are the child’s link to the past.”

I was blessed with the most amazing grandparents on my mother’s side. They gave me unconditional love, kindness, and patience and taught me some valuable life lessons I’ve carried with me through my adult life. 

As a result, I’ve tried to pass many of these lessons on to my grandchildren. 

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Embrace family traditions.

Holiday rituals, Sunday dinners, and family reunions were all part of my life growing up. Not only were they a lot of fun, but they were and remain threads that bind a family together. Family traditions provide history, reinforce the importance of family, and provide a sense of who you are and where you’re from. 

Unfortunately, not all grandchildren grow up and live in the same area as their grandparents. So, it’s even more important to celebrate and pass along those family traditions when you get together.

The Power of a Penny Saved

The Greatest Generation of our time lived through the Great Depression. Their lessons in frugality and resourcefulness came straight from this era and the ensuing war years, resulting in what my grandmother called “make due and mend.” Before throwing something away, she would try fixing it first.

That frugality continued with my grandfather, who believed in saving money. Some have called it the “pay it yourself first” principle. When I went with him to the steel mill in northeast Ohio to pick up his paycheck, we’d deposit it in the bank. He would help me stand on my tiptoes and hand the teller the bank book he had given me to make my deposit earned from chores or good grades.

Hope Springs Eternal, and Tough Times Don’t Last Forever

In life, we’ll always find those who are the glass-half-empty types. While I saw my grandparents occasionally worry about matters, their view was that the sun would shine again just after a thunderstorm. Their adage that “tomorrow’s a brighter day” rang true many times.

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The joy of homegrown vegetables.

Homegrown is Best

My grandparents loved gardening, and as a result, I learned that gardening connects us with the land and teaches us about hard work, patience, and the joy of eating what you grow. They were sustainable long before “Farm to Table” became trendy. 

We had plenty of great food, from home-cooked meals to canning and preserving. It was delicious and nutritious as well. Today, I value nothing more than pulling out and making those precious family recipes my grandmother passed down.

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Humor is a Balm to the Soul

My husband also had amazing grandparents, whom I was fortunate enough to spend much time with over the years. Grandpa Myers had a witty sense of humor and loved telling jokes and tall tales.

I recall one where he said he was tired of his minister always lying about the size of the fish he caught. So, Grandpa told him a story about re-catching a big fish that still had his lantern glowing in its belly. When the minister snorted his disbelief and said, “Come on, Tom,” Grandpa wryly responded, “Well, Pastor, if you take five pounds off the fish you caught, I’ll blow my lantern out.”

A good sense of humor can lighten any situation and make life more enjoyable. Be that person who smiles often, laughs at silly things, has a positive outlook on life, and is fun to be around. Those people typically attract others like them in their lives. It’s a win-win.

Honesty is the Bedrock of Good Character

The Greatest Generation of our time also believed that your word was your bond. This lesson in integrity is worth its weight in gold; describing someone as “an honest man” was one of the biggest compliments.

The importance of truthfulness these days cannot be overstated, and we’ve discussed many times with our grandkids that if you tell the truth, it becomes part of your past, but if you don’t, it becomes part of your future.

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Pinky promises are the best!

Keep Your Promises

Likely, one of the most important values I learned from my grandparents is that a promise is a sacred vow. It’s a big word that can either make or break something, and it’s usually the heart when that commitment isn’t honored.

Lastly, even though we can pass these valuable lessons to our grandchildren, remember that these precious relationships are a two-way street. My grandchildren have, in turn, taught me just as much as I’ve taught them, and for that, I am eternally grateful.


Noreen Kompanik

Noreen Kompanik is a freelance journalist, associate editor, and speaker from San Diego. A retired registered nurse, she now travels the world and writes about her adventures. Her stories have appeared in TravelPulse, Edible San Diego Magazine, Europe Up Close, International Living and more.

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