This Is The Kind Of Grandpa I Plan To Be

 
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My name is John Alton Shelton III, and I want to tell you about my grandfather, John Alton Shelton, Sr. I'd like to refer to him as Papa, that's how my brothers and I knew him, and it is my honor to tell you about this great man.

I could talk about his influence as a man of faith, and how actively he sought to bring Jesus to others through his words as a teacher and actions as a follower.

I could talk about his loyalty, and how he would open his home to anyone who needed a friend.

I could talk about his leadership, and his success within the education system of Alabama.

I could talk about his strength, which he proved growing up on a farm in north Alabama, as well as on the basketball court as both a player and coach; or his strength in fighting sickness like a warrior until he took his last breath.

But I prefer to talk about the man I knew as a grandfather to my two younger brothers and me. Papa greatly influenced my life. As a grandfather, he did three things for me that I would like to share.

The first thing Papa did was take me fishing. He brought my brothers and me to a pond or lake whenever we had a free weekend growing up. He taught us to bait a crappy hook with a cricket, and when that hook was empty, he would say we were fishing on credit. And at the end of the day, there was nothing better than frying fish with Papa. We helped him cook the fish we’d caught and he’d let us have a sample once it was fried. Papa spent time with us.

The second thing Papa did was show up to my games. If you’ve ever played in or watched little kids’ football games, you know how long and painful they can be. Papa showed up to all of our games, and he made us feel like all-stars. Papa was my biggest fan, Drake's biggest fan, and Sullivan's biggest fan. It didn't matter if I’d played my best game or my worst; I got one of Papa's big painful hugs at the end of the game. Papa showed up.

The third thing Papa did was to give me phone calls. I think he called me every weekend when I was young, and I’m grateful for those conversations. Papa would ask how my grades were going, and when I was going to "march" for graduation. If the call wasn't about school, it was always about playing sports, my music, or how the job search was going. I am grateful that Papa was a big part of my life. Papa stayed in touch.

My Papa taught me to be strong, loyal, faithful, and loving. If I'm lucky enough to have grand kids one day, I'm going to make sure and take them fishing, show up to all their games, and call them every chance I get.

I love you Papa.

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Jack Shelton received his MBA from the University of Alabama. He lives and works in Atlanta, GA.