My grandfather was a house painter. In his lifetime he must have painted hundreds of houses inside and out. He was a happy, outgoing man who made friends easily. It wasn’t hard to tell that he loved his work as well as his life. He was also an excellent painter. No one could paint a wall like Grandpa. Consequently, he was always in demand.
Once, while in college, I went to help Grandpa paint a house. While working inside, I noticed how skilled he was at giving a wall a quality coat of paint so quickly. As a matter of fact, he could carry on a conversation with the homeowner, laughing all the time, while painting three walls to my one.
At one point he stopped to watch me. He noticed how I took my time dipping the brush in the paint bucket, and how I carefully wiped off both sides of the brush as I pulled it out so not to waste any paint. I then spread a thin coat of paint on the wall without spilling a drop. It was a slow tedious process but I dared not laugh or “kid around” for fear of making a mess.
Finally he offered to give me some advice. “Here, watch this,” he said as he took the brush from my hand. Dipping the brush deep into the bucket he produced a brush heaping with paint as he pulled it out. “See,” he said, “This is how you do it. Don’t worry about spills and messes. They can always be cleaned up.
Treat a wall the way you treat people — be generous. Have fun. Always put enough paint on the brush.
With that he turned and applied a thick coat of paint on the wall while at the same time resuming his conversation with the homeowner. Yes — he did spill a few drops, but I noticed how much better his wall looked than mine. I also noticed how much fun he was having.
I’ll always remember the lesson my grandfather taught me that day.
Life is not always perfect. Some days we spill very few drops – some days we spill a lot. The only thing that really matters is what the wall looks like when we are done (and how much fun we had painting it).
This is one of 52 stories from my bestselling book on fathering, How Fathers Change Lives. It was contributed by my friend and nationally recognized speaker, Tom Krause.
“Life is like a sponge. It’s a balance between soaking the right amount of fun and squeezing out the right amount of work.”
– Shirley MacLain
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