It is said that God couldn't be everywhere so she created grandparents. Today on Dayton Youth Radio we have a story from a high school basketball player who wanted to quit after a bad game. That's when someone he calls "Pops" stepped in.
My name is Gabre. I'm 17, and I'm currently growing up in a single parent household. My mom is raising five of us. I've got four siblings, two brothers and two sisters.
For as long as I can remember, my grandfather Marvin Jones and I have been very close. He stands about six feet tall and has a gray stubble beard. He was born and raised in Dayton Ohio. I don't have a driver's license yet so if I need a ride somewhere, like to play basketball or whenever I need to be picked up, he's there for me. Now that I think about it, I can't name one time I called him and he didn't answer the phone.
He has been a father figure to me ever since I was born. So I asked him if his father was in his life.
"Not at first," he says. "But eventually you know he came around. So that was a plus. I enjoyed that."
I asked him about his memories of things we did together when I was younger.
"We used to hang out, go either play some basketball or go somewhere and eat. It was just a chance to nurture some things in my grandson. You had a very meek spirit. You were always cordial. I mean you respected your elders. I noticed that you're more serious about what it is you need to do physically. You're more serious about what it is you need to do more spiritually."
I think growing up around my grandfather made me a better person because he influenced me to be responsible in life and look at life in a funny, different kind of way.
Like the time when I had a bad game, I missed a lot of shots that I normally make. I had some turnovers, and we lost. After playing like that, I thought about just not playing basketball anymore. After the game, my grandfather talked to me about staying encouraged and told me ways I can improve on the next game. He began telling me stories about his high school basketball game and how he didn't always play well either. After talking to him more and more, I began to feel better about my situation. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be playing basketball to this day.
"There is always somebody out there that's better than you. That's just how God created us," he said. "But the one thing, you never let nobody outwork you. Always give your best in whatever situation you're in, always give your best. You always bring your A game when it comes time to work."
I never really expressed to my grandfather how I feel about the things he does for me, and I never really thanked him.
I asked him what advice he'd give me if I ever were to become a father.
"Always be there from day one. Be there when they start walking, when they start talking because you can never get that back. So that's very special, not only to the child but especially to you. So be there from day one until the very end."
My story will maybe inspire teenagers to get a better relationship with their grandparents or get to know their grandparents more or spend more time with them and appreciate them while you still have them here on this earth because they are very wise people, and they can teach you a lot about life.
Gabre Wilder is a student at the Dayton Early College Academy. To learn more about DECA, visit the school's website: http://daytonearlycollege.org/ Special thanks to Anne Rasmussen, Director of Community Involvement at DECA.
Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.