Blessed be the divine wisdom that invented grandfathers and grandmothers!

Of all the relationships of which I’m a part, none brings greater joy than that relationship in which I’m known as “grandpa.” If there are any in this world who love me truly and unconditionally, it is my six grandchildren.

Grandparents are peculiar to humanity. Within the animal kingdom there may be a degree of filial affection between parents and children, but of any connection between grandparents and grandchildren there isn’t a trace. 

It is uniquely man who early on comes under the influence not only of fathers and mothers, but of grandfathers and grandmothers. And the world is infinitely better as a result.

Grandparentism gives us a second chance: if we fail at parenting, we can still succeed at grandparenting. Hezekiah was one of the best of the Old Testament kings, but he was the son of Ahaz, who was one of the worst. But of Hezekiah’s grandfather, Jotham, it was said that he “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.” 

As often seems to be the case, the DNA jumped a generation; it seems Jotham had greater success influencing his grandson than his son. And therein lies the hope in being a grandparent.

I only knew one set of my grandparents (my maternal grandmother died long before I was born, and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I was around my maternal grandfather), but what an advantage I had by knowing my dad’s father and mother. They imparted a goodness and stability not only to me but to the entire family. I’d like to think that my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins were better people, better neighbors, better citizens as a result of Grandma and Grandpa.

Benaiah was one of David’s “mighty men.” Among other things, he killed two lion-like heroes of Moab; killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day; and with only a club, disarmed and killed an Egyptian champion who carried a spear. 

By any definition, Benaiah was a heroic warrior, but notice what is said about his ancestry: “Benaiah was son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man from Kabzeel” (1 Sam. 23.20). Nothing significant is noted about the father, but the grandfather’s valor is mentioned. It seems the text is telling us: like grandfather, like grandson. 

The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay / Sat by his fire, and talked the night away. / Wept o’er his wounds, or tales of sorrow done, / Shoulder’d his crutch, and show’d how fields were won (Goldsmith). 

I wonder how much Benaiah was inspired by tales of his grandfather’s courage?

I think it’s our duty to perpetuate the virtues of our grandparents. They represent (at least, they ought to represent) goodness. And goodness is too precious a commodity to simply bury in a grave.

For only so far as each generation perpetuates and exceeds the goodness of its ancestors, does civilization make any real progress.

Kenny Chumbley, a lifelong resident of Rantoul, is a minister, author and  publisher.