Reminiscience about grandparents and Dad's influence on my upbringing.
I was six years old when grandpa started those lessons on character. I didn't realize it at the time, but the lessons stretched deeper than that... way down into integrity and spirit. Something else I didn't realize was that he was teaching them to me - about me, not necessarily about the person I was shaking hands with. Furthermore, it didn't only work with handshakes but it also worked with those good ol' family hugs that everyone greets each other with in the South.
As youth passed into adolescence I found myself slipping a little white lie from time to time to my parents or even to grandpa. I didn't know I was giving the signals to grandpa or dad through my hug or handshake but they received them. The little lies weren't anything for them to be concerned about too much. I wasn't out stealing or running with the neighborhood ne'er-do-wells. They knew even if I was telling a little lie now and then that I wouldn't do those things. But, they knew me well enough to know that something was wrong spiritually and they kept their eye out for trouble.
One of those times, during the hot summer, I had been riding my bicycle in a construction area that was off limits. During my ride I had taken a bad fall and one of the bicycle's handlebars had gouged the right side of my rib cage leaving a bad skin abrasion. I made sure I kept it covered for several days but I was having trouble breathing deep. I was also lethargic during the healing process and finally decided to spend time at grandpa's house to further hide the incident from my dad.
Finally dad (taking the cue from grandma) came over to grandma and grandpa's house (his parents) and asked me what I was hiding. When I fessed up to the disloyalty of going someplace I should not have been and had taken the bad fall, dad looked at my bruised side and quickly took me to the doctor where we found that I had three badly bruised ribs and a bruised lung.
Later I realized that this part of my soul, my integrity, this truthfulness between myself and God, (yes I was also raised in a Christian home) is more important in my handshake, so the world can look in my eyes and feel in my firm grip, that I am who I say I am. I am a man of God, a believer in Christ. I came to a point in my life at that very early age where I realized that this spiritual peace was more important than money, possessions or fame, although fame seemed important at times. My desire to attain any specific goal(s) was not to be selfish, but should be to instill some of that same spiritual peace in others. I am sure there was some type of ego involved somewhere in this desire and, I had been blessed with talents that God had taught me in His Word to use, which in my case was leading me into the "fame" arena by the time I was twenty.
Soon, He gave me a servant's heart and I became a police officer. I have been serving for the past 40 years. The one thing that kept me in check spiritually (besides the Word) was the integrity ingrained into me by my father and grandfathers. All three of these gentlemen held the highest pinnacles of integrity of any men I have ever known. In my entire life I never heard any of them say one bad word about another human being no matter what race or color of skin they wore. They left this world looking for the good in people even when it left them on the short end of the stick. I am forever thankful for those three men, the men who gave me the examples to follow so I could find the wealth of spiritual peace.