I have spent much of the last several days thinking about my grandfather. As is often the case when a loved one is lost, his words and stories have filled my mind. He was a man who loved to laugh and tell jokes but I do not think any of his jokes were new. I doubt if any of them originated after 1955. Here are some of his favorites-
Whenever anyone asked how he was his standard reply was, "I'm older than I've ever been."
When one of his grandsons would walk in he would often say, "You get any better looking and you'll look as good as me!"
If I asked him if he could afford anything his answer was always, "I've got money I haven't spent yet!"
A few days before he died, I suggested it would be easier to put all of his money into a single account. Gramps replied, "You want to put both dollars in the same place?"
He always introduced himself by saying, "I'm Les. With one "s"
He told me several times what he wanted on his gravestone- "Les is no more."
I still laugh at the silliness of his jokes, but it is a serious comment he made when I was 10 years old that has most been on my mind. One summer my cousin and I spent a few weeks with our grandparents. We spent most of our time trying to one up each other. One morning we were debating who was greater and telling stories about why and how we were better that each other. Gramps overheard our friendly argument and called out from the other room.
"If you really were great you wouldn't have to tell anybody. They would just know." That lesson about greatness, that it is based on your actions and not your words, has never left me.