An Ode to Grandfatherly Wisdom

My grandfather always told me to never say the word “hate.”

“Don’t say hate,” he would say. “Say “dislike” instead.”

Don’t hate, just dislike.

I never got a chance to ask him for the origins or meaning for this advice. But he always reminded me of it whenever he heard me say the word.

My grandfather was born an orphan.

He never had a home or family. He never had any of that.

I think about him a lot. He was dealt such a bad hand. But he kept onward.

He was never adopted, he was never put into a home, and he was never put into an orphanage for a long period of time.

His childhood has no record.

What I do know about his childhood is the few stories he would tell me, and they often included some portion about how, “the animals were my best friends.”

As a kid, I thought that was the coolest thing ever. Friends with the animals! As a grown man, I realize what that really means.

It was true, though. And it stuck with him his entire life. All of my dogs loved him! Same with the outdoor cats we had roaming around my house. When he came to town, everyone was stopping by to say hi. Even the woodpeckers and the blue jays.

Never hate. Just dislike.

I’ve broken his rule a few times in my life. I have tried to live it thoroughly, but sadly I have broken it. I think it would be unfair to think I wouldn’t break it a few times. But I am trying to change that with every instance.

In life, in politics, in career, in sports… Don’t hate it, just dislike it.

His memory keeps me inspired. I think about if I was in his shoes as a child. Could I have done that? Never having anyone to turn to? How would my outlook on life be different had I jumped from home to home to farm to even at times to homelessness? Or seeing another happy family walk by on Saturday while I had nothing? Imagine how hard that was.

But then I imagine the courage of sitting me down as a young boy who had it all, a great family, a great town, the complete opposite of what he had, and telling me to never hate. Instead, if you really must, just dislike. After all those experiences. After a childhood that has no record.

I am reminded of this story because today I find myself living those words as much as I can. Especially as the Holiday season approaches. The opposite is no way to live. It is no way to spend your energy. Remove it from your life in all aspects. Focus on the good.

And if you must, just dislike instead.


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