We all have relatives that have a boundless influence on us. With their power of molding our lives, the imprints they leave on our hearts can be both good and bad. When I think back to my early childhood, one of the most prominent relatives in my life was my grandfather. As the nearest extended relative, we frequently saw each other, and he was an unmistakable influence on my life. I remember being at my 4th birthday party – a pool party – and getting water in my ear. As my attempts at getting that last drop out failed, my grandfather, Papa Pete, helped instruct me on the proper method. From that time on, he was a sage to me. He always gave the surest advice I could follow, and, most of the time, it turned out to be the best advice anyone had given me. As I grew into an older, still young, boy, my grandfather taught me many life lessons. I remember his strict demand for obedience in the simple affair of taking two steps at a time up the stairs. "Two steps!" he'd almost yell, anytime he caught my short legs taking a break. And he'd remind me when we finished, "Always take two steps, m'boy. It's good for your heart." As if a 7-year-old needed tips on being wary of heart problems. But through the elementary concept of taking stairs two at a time, to the more complex, like taking life's problems with caution, he always had some perceptive bit of advice for me. In addition to his healthy habits, he taught me to organize things, and he's probably the source my 'neat freak' genes. As one of the most organized people I know, my grandpa is constantly on time, he always carries notecards, and he arranges things with the utmost care. How much did he pay for that pack of gum? He can look in his day planner and tell you. He'd also be able to say where/when/how he got it, and the name of the cashier who rang him up. Another systematic technique he engages in is making use of the notecards he carries in his pockets 24/7. He's always got a felt-tipped marker at his disposal and his handwriting is clear and concise. As he jots down notes, he always reminds me to make sure I have notecards on me, and I usually regret it when I don't take his advice. His influence would have been the most honest, the most upright, the most true; except for one thing. He lied once. And I know I can trust him nowadays, but it still crushed me when I found out. All my life I grew up believing he was telling me the total truth when he said, "I never smoked a cigarette in my life." As he said that, I'd always feel proud of my grandaddy, and hope that I could say the same someday. My pride in this achievement was dashed one day when I found out that he had, in fact, smoked a cigarette. I got into an argument, wildly defending my grandpa, when my mother claimed he'd smoked. You can imagine my disappointment when he was called in to verify my defense. Just one, he said. And it was only once, and I got really sick, he said. I kept it to myself, but all my hopes in the honesty and inherent goodness of the human race were destroyed that day. Gone were the days of thinking that there were some people out there that weren't capable of telling a lie. I now know that that time comes for everyone, but usually we don't know the exact day and time. I remember it vividly. How crushed I was! The thought that my grandpa, the 'Honest Abe' in my life, would tell me a lie, was loathsome. However, I've recovered from my childhood trauma, and have since realized that I would probably make the same claim if I'd had the same experience. And besides that one day, as far as I know, his honesty is impeccable. In a way, I think that experience taught me that it's important to tell the truth, regardless if you've told a lie before. There's always redemption – just like with my grandpa. Probably one of the most notable qualities my grandpa has is his sense of humor. As the party animal, my grandpa always has people rolling on the floor laughing. Yet as a thoughtful, kind, old man, he always thinks of people when he's reading the comics and cutting them out, to share with the world. When it comes his spirituality, my grandpa takes things a little more seriously. I've always know him to be diligent and diciplined in his walk with the Lord. He's a devoted fan of the Upper Room daily devotional books, and loves to copy them when he reads something that someone needs to hear. I don't know how many times I've gotten letters from him that are filled with Upper Room devotional pages, newspaper articles, and comic strips. As well as his daily journey, my grandpa focuses on reaching out to the world, too. He's been on numerous mission trips; many to exotic, far-away places where the locals stand in awe of the missionaries' tote bags and clothes. Because they don't have as much as we do, my grandfather, almost always, leaves his bag behind, wearing only the clothes on his back for the trip home. Knowing that relatives are enourmous influences on our lives and decisions, I'm greatful that I can have such a wonderful grandfather to follow. I can only hope that one day, I'll be just as honest, diciplined, and caring as he is. I know that I'll look back on my childhood – as I do now – with fond memories of all the times my grandpa and I have shared together: living, laughing, and loving.

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