My father’s father, David Paul Hershey, figures large in my memory of growing up. That’s primarily because the relationship between him and my father was complicated. Daddy bought the family farm (called The Home Place in my memoir Blush). Enough said. For now.
But despite the differences of opinion between the two patriarchs who ruled my life, Daddy and Grandpa, there were many moments of fun family communion also. One of Grandpa’s habits when his brood of six children and all their own offspring gathered in one place was to keep us all at the table until the last person had eaten dessert. Oh how slowly that time went for a child.
“Don’t even think of sliding off your chair until Grandpa says so! No, you can’t be excused.”
Eventually, Grandpa would gaze upon all of us and decide it was time for the last part of the meal.
“Now we will return thanks,” he would say.
Returning thanks meant that not only did we ask for a blessing on our food, family, church, and world, at the beginning of the meal. We paused again to say thanks at the end of the meal for what we had eaten and all that we were to each other.
The prayer was silent. Grandpa always whispered something to God. I always wondered what kind of secrets the two of them had with each other.
When I was asked to lead a group of program officers at the Fetzer Institute, I told them Grandpa’s practice, and we instituted it as our own, naming things we were thankful for at the end of every meeting.
When I came to the very end of my book, I had to follow Grandpa’s example by returning thanks.
It took four pages to thank everyone I could think of. I didn’t want to leave anyone out, but I know even four pages isn’t enough.
Below find the last page of the acknowledgments. I hope Grandpa, who died in 1985, would be pleased to see his influence in these words:
For my New Beginning today: I am going to return thanks after every meal and thank God for Grandpa Hershey, the prayer whisperer, always remembered by our family for insisting that we Return Thanks.
What’s your New Beginning? Insert it here.
A little update. I’ve blogged every day for a week. And I’ve received 100 entries in the Challenge. Some people are logging a New Beginning every day. Good for you!