A Grandfatherly Legacy of Wisdom


In this passage, the National Center for Fathering discusses why it is so important for a grandfather to support the parents in transmitting wisdom.

In August of 1985, my father passed away. Fortunately, I talked with him just the Sunday before. He shared that he felt 22 years old inside but that when he looked in the mirror he saw an old man. Dad added that he couldn’t carry two bags of groceries up a flight of steps without getting exhausted. On Tuesday the 6th, he passed away.

My dad’s death slammed home the fact that, in my nuclear family, I was now the patriarch, the oldest male of my family. Our sons had just moved up a notch to being the second-generation males.

Dad’s death also started me thinking more about what he had given me and what was his legacy. Neither of my grandfathers were living during my childhood. I had no one to impart grandfatherly wisdom. The job of teaching me and my brothers the wisdom of the male Caccamo’s fell solely to my dad.

Yes, of course, mom taught us wisdom too, but from a motherly perspective. For example, my mom taught us that we were known by the company we kept so it was important to select friends carefully. My dad, on the other hand, added that we were also known by the company we didn’t keep, so staying away from bad people was also very important.

Not having grandfathers on whom I could rely for modeling the art of teaching wisdom, I did rely on my dad. As our boys grew up, their grandfathers provided pearls of wisdom for them. There is nothing that can match the wisdom of age and experience.

Sixteen years later on May 3, 2001, our daughter-in-law and son had their first child. Just seven weeks later, June 22, our other daughter-in-law and son had their first child. Becoming a grandfather touched me deeply.

You might be wondering why it is so important for a grandfather to support the parents in transmitting wisdom. Surely my parents taught me – why can’t our grandsons’ parents teach them? Well, they can and will. But in today’s society, with the stressors on families and with grandparents being healthier and living longer, why not be supportive to our grandchildren and pass down the wisdom of our life’s experiences? Also, the birth of our grandchildren caused me to give serious thought to what my legacy might be with the next generation.

Because our sons and daughters-in-law live in other cities, we made the decision that our grandchildren were going to know us. We travel frequently to see them and talk to their families at least weekly.

The technology of digital photography has also helped support my ensuring that our grandchildren have a very specific idea as to who we are. We share photographs on a regular basis.

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