Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Always Do Right

When I was 14 years old, about a month or so after I received my Eagle Scout award, I was with Mom over at Grandma and Grandpa Anderson's house. I don't remember why we were there, but as Mom and I were getting ready to leave, Grandpa told us to wait a minute and he went downstairs to his study. When he came back up he held a book of his entitled Of One Heart: The Glory of the City of Enoch and a letter he had written for me on his typewriter. He proceeded to give them to me in his quiet, unassuming way. When I was a kid (and frankly to this day to some degree) I was pretty shy and often felt kind of invisible, but not in a bad way. I knew my family loved and cared about me; I just figured people never really took much notice of me because I was quiet. So when Grandpa made an effort to single me out and give me something, I was both surprised and really touched. I stumbled through the best "thankyou" I could muster (I really was an especially awkward 14 year old), and we were on our way.

The letter congratulated me on earning my Eagle, and went on to give me some advice about life. At the time I thought it was great advice that would help me survive my teenage years, and it was. I successfully navigated those treacherous teenage waters with what I think was modest success. But now that I'm on the downhill side of my 20s (first water and now hills? how's that for mixing your metaphors?), I've come to realize that the wisdom he imparted in his letter continues to have a very real impact on my life. I don't want to get into the details of his advice except to share one line that has always stood out to me:

"Always do right, no matter what the cost."

I think about that line a lot. Sometimes it gets stuck in my head and I repeat it to myself over and over again. (In fact it gets stuck in there almost as often as the chorus of King of Pain, except this is more uplifting.)

Today was one of those days when I have been playing it over in my mind a lot. So while procrastinating doing my reading for my composition theory class, I was fiddling around with Photoshop, and I made this:

I've never really done work with typography before, so it's not that great. Mostly I was just playing around with colors and fonts and seeing if I could adjust the kerning and whatnot.

Anyway, as I've been thinking about why I like this piece of advice so much, I've decided that, on top of it being applicable to nearly every moment of every day of my life, I like it because it pretty much sums up the kind of man Grandpa was. As his obituary says, "As a role model for his wife and children [and I'd add grandchildren], he was unsurpassed. His quiet, humble demeanor and unmitigated love was felt by all throughout his life. He was truly a man without guile." 

Grandpa Anderson is one of my heroes, and I try to pattern my life after his in many ways. The book and letter that he gave to me have become some of my most treasured possessions. I've read the book a couple times, and I've read and reread his letter many, many times. Grandpa passed away nearly 11 years ago now, and reading his letter - his encouragement to always live my life right - never fails inspire me and make me happy.


  1. I love this. Grandpa was one of the best men I have known, truly an example of all that is good and right. I love that quote and am going to remember it now. Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. i already stole one of your running mantras, so I won't steal this one, but it would be great. :)

  3. I loved this Sam! Sounds like your Grandpa was awesome. Hope all is well in Indiana! I sure do miss our sports chats, etc. in the carrels! (Weirdly this comment is sounding more formal than I mean it to be. Just roll with it.)