The Bezos Brothers: The Incredible Impact of Grandparents

A Grandfather’s Legacy

Sometimes I wonder what my legacy will be. I know that the grandchildren will remember me. I’m so much a part of their lives. And I can tell when they’ve been talking about me behind my back. Sometimes it’s fine, other times, not so great. It turns out that I’m famous for not being able to keep a secret. From time to time my nine-year-old granddaughter will recite a litany of the secrets I shouldn’t have told. I listen with puzzlement. How could I have done that? The merriment on her face, though, shows me that she and her family have understood my sins and they’re now part of our family legend.

Will telling secrets be my legacy? I hope not. I think it should be the songs, and the stories, and the trips, and the encouragement, and the hugs and the dinners. But I don’t know what it’ll be.

This came home to me when I watched the conversation between the Bezos brothers, whose grandfather was a rancher. Pop could do almost anything, and when he was stuck, he’d figure out some new way to solve the problem. He was fearless and competent. The farm, the cattle, the fences, the ranch itself was a great, big wonderful puzzle that he encountered every day.

Do you think Pop planned that to be his legacy? I don’t knw. I think he was glad to have the grandsons with him every summer on the ranch.  I think he was too busy to consider legacy. The boys as they grew up were a help. I bet he was glad for that. Jeff Bezos credits Pop for all his (considerable) successes. Pop’s way of being, finding a problem and solving it, trying again when the first solution fails—that sounds like the grandson, all right.

So maybe we shouldn’t worry about legacy. Let’s stay in the present, mending whatever kinds of fences we encounter, dealing with whatever problems come up, and being ourselves—because that’s what grandchildren understand. They have x-ray vision for who we are. That will suffice.


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