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Lessons From My Grandad

My Grandad recently passed away.

Peter John Kinson was born in 1933, and despite being refused life insurance in his thirties for being “too high-risk” due to his chronic asthma, he got married, had three children, had five grandchildren, and only stopped riding his bicycle around the village when he was into his eighties!


Grandad passed away last month (May 2020) and of course, as a family, we have spent a lot of time reminiscing and talking about the wonderful memories we have of him.

Thinking back over the 30 years I had with my Grandad, I am comforted by remembering his mannerisms, his catchphrases, and perhaps most importantly, the lessons I learned from him.

As a way of honouring him, today I’m going to share just a few of the things I learned from my wonderful Grandad.

I hope you find them useful too.

Don’t be afraid to be who you really are.

My Grandad was renowned for his brutal honesty, his strong opinions, and the unapologetic way in which he presented himself to others. He showed you exactly who he was and made no bones about it.

As someone who has always struggled with low self-esteem and fear of the judgement of others, I admire the way my Grandad was able to be his authetic self, right to the very end. I hope I can start to use him as an example of how to live a life more authentically “me”.

If you love someone, show them.

Never one to say the words “I love you”, my Grandad spent every day of his life showing his family how much he loved them. His love language was acts of service. When my Grandma’s sandle strap broke, he’d mend it. When my favourite bag got a hole in it, he fixed it. When my mum wanted some vegetables for a meal, he’d get them out of his own garden and give them to her. When I wanted my first houseplant in my new place, he took a cutting off one of his own treasured plants and gave it to me.

I loved my Grandad very much, and I would tell him so, whilst giving him a hug. He would awkwardly hug me back and tell me “Behave yourself”. I knew with those two words, he was telling me he loved me too, in his own gruff way.

He was never vocal about his emotions, but I know he felt them deeply. And as a family, we know how much he loved us, because he showed us. I’ve learnt from him that love doesn’t have to be fancy words or extravagant gifts; we can show love in small ways every day, and those small things will probably be what we treasure the most.

Limits? I don’t know her.

As I mentioned at the beginning, my Grandad lived with asthma and other chronic conditions related to his lungs, and in his thirties, he was refused life insurance, because doctors insisted he wouldn’t be around that long.

But Grandad wasn’t having any of that. He refused to accept the prognosis and simply chose to ignore it. He worked hard, he got married, he had children, then grandchildren. He worked his garden and his allotment, he rode his bike, he did DIY, he went fishing. He even rode in a hot air balloon! He lived his life to the full and refused to be defined or restricted by his doctors’ opinions of his limitations.

He defined his own limits and never let anyone tell him otherwise. He inspires me to create my own future, to make my own magic, to believe that I can achieve whatever I want to achieve. And I know he’ll be right there beside me, cheering me on.

I miss my Grandad and I’m heartbroken that he’s gone.

But I’m also incredibly grateful to have been a part of his family and to have so many wonderful memories of him. I’m also proud that part of him lives on through me.

Since he passed, I firmly believe that he has been with us, comforting and protecting us from the other side. We’ve all heard his voice in our heads in times of need, dishing out his blunt, no-frills catchphrases to make us smile or keep us on the right path.

Thank you for the lessons, Grandad. You were a great teacher.


Lessons from my Grandad (


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