Grandpa Roy

The rush has finally slowed down, and for the first time all evening, I can breathe. I’ve survived another Monday of frantically making mini pizzas for the almost 1000 students who funnel through our cafeteria on a weeknight. As I am collecting my thoughts, I look up to see a welcome and familiar sight: Grandpa Roy has arrived!

For those of you who don’t attend my school, Grandpa Roy is a wonderful elderly man who has adopted our campus. During most weekday lunches and dinners you can find him sitting in the cafeteria at the same round table, reading the newspaper or talking to students. He is known for being a good listener, having an infectious smile, and giving away hundreds of flowers from his garden.

Every Monday night at seven, Grandpa Roy comes into the part of the cafeteria where the food is served and gives each of the workers a flower. At the end of a long shift, it never fails to make my day. I always pin mine to my name tag until I get home, and then I put it in a little dish of water. By Tuesday morning, the tight bud will have opened, and for the next few days the cheery little blossom will brighten my bedroom.


Every time I see Grandpa Roy, I think to myself, “I want to be like him when I grow old.” So many elderly people in our society are grumpy or bitter, but Grandpa Roy is exactly the opposite, a bright spot of joy in a weary world.

I truly believe Grandpa Roy has found the secret to aging gracefully: keep pouring out. While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with retiring from your job, I also don’t think there ever comes a point when you should retire from your calling, or “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” (Frederick Buechner) The Bible never says to love your neighbor until you turn sixty-five and start collecting social security, and I think Grandpa Roy beautifully exemplifies loving well until the end. Someday your time on earth will end, but until then, you have a reason to be here. Whether you’re twenty, or eighty, God wants you to be his agent of redemption in the world.


8 thoughts on “Grandpa Roy

  1. Thank you Kelly. This is a good reminder. There isn’t a time limit on giving. It’s not like school where you get to look ahead to breaks. Thankfully “pouring out” isn’t as draining as one might think, Grandpa Roy amazes me with how kind and happy he is everyday. This post has also reminded me to focus on the good things of my day and the things I can do to help others.

  2. Thank you Kelly, you remind me that there are many nice people no matter what age they are, still being nice and generous. And you also remind me of what is my duty to be a agent of God.

    • There are so many wonderful people in this world, and every time I get discouraged by the evil in the world, I try to look for those who are helping instead of hurting, loving instead of hating.

  3. This was a beautiful, positive piece on what of the facets that make our campus so unique and wonderful. It’s amazing how simple it is to make someone’s day brighter. It’s such a lovely way to serve, and something makes it so much more haunting and meaningful when the act of kindness is done by a stranger. We all have such fond thoughts bout Grandpa Roy, and they almost always involve a flower and a smile.

  4. I remember not even being an official freshman yet; must have been Genesis or something. But I remember how aggressively shy I was around any and all. For some reason, I saw Grandpa Roy sitting by himself and felt compelled to chat with him. And I did. He totally loosened me, so kind and curious about my own character. Between bites of teriyaki chicken, he would share some of the most amazing pieces of school history.

    He probably does not remember that specific instance, but it was so cool to share that with him, and that no one can take that from me.

    • The amazing thing is that I’m pretty sure most students here have at least one story of an incredibly positive encounter with Grandpa Roy. It makes me hope that I can touch a life or two like he does, even if I never know the impact I have on someone.

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