The Questions I Wish I Asked my Grandfather Before He Died

In 2009, my grandfather passed after a long bout with diabetes and heart disease. While preparing to launch my podcast, I can't help to think of the one interview I never did. Ironically, the time was there to do it. I called him every day for over three years with the exception of four days (until two months before his passing....not an exaggeration). I guess I saw the writing on the wall. Despite those phone conversations, I never took the chance to ask him the questions that still keep me wondering.

The Questions I Didn’t Ask


-When you were seventeen, your mother passed, and then your father nearly one year later. Tragic losses at such an early age. How did those moments shape your perspective in life, and how do you believe they steered your path? How have those experiences changed your interactions with new people? What was the greatest lesson from each of your parents that still resonates today?

-You married my grandmother, and you were drafted for the Korean War shortly after. Describe the day you found out that you were drafted. Did you receive a letter or phone call? Where were you standing? What were the first thoughts that crossed your mind upon learning this new fate?

-Lying on your cot at night while stationed in Germany during the Korean War. The unofficial Korean War officially ended three months earlier, but you were still serving in the army. What thoughts passed through your head while trying to sleep? Did you believe that the war truly ended? What uncertainties did you fear?

-People were shocked to hear that the president JFK was shot. In that period of US history, the deaths of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. added to an unsettling spirit. What was your perspective of such a time? Where does that period fit into your life span that started in the 1930’s?

-What was your morning ritual? Did you wake up the same time each day? Did you have breakfast with all five kids? Did you follow the same regiment daily? When you were operating at your best, how did you structure the days of your weeks? What were the rituals or routines that helped you to create your best self and best performance? What is one habit everyone should begin today?

-Tell me a story about one of your most memorable rejections in the beginning days.

-As a 7th grader, you mentioned in a church bulletin that you wanted to become an engineer when you “grow up”. Fast forward nearly a decade, and that was, indeed, what you became. What sparked your interest in the industry, and who was your mentor? Did you consider pivoting towards another career at any point? If so, what were you considering? Do you ever wonder what it would’ve been like to be in that career instead?

-How did you choose a personal or professional project, and how did this approach change over the years? What were the highlights of your career? If you did an autopsy, what are the takeaways?

-Is there a line or passage in a book you’ve read over a lifetime that still resonates today? Has there ever been a moment in your life that led you to say, “Something has to change”? If so, how did you respond?

-You have met many interesting people and checked off several impressive career milestones while working as an engineer at Santa Fe Railroad, and then for the city. What valuable lesson would you share with my two-year-old son, your great-grandson, Preston, and why?

Personal Trainer Wisdom: In our pursuit for wisdom, we often overlook the resources in front of us. My grandfather was an incredible person that certainly shaped who I am and my approach today. Although I can’t ask him these questions, I will do my best to no longer overlook the lessons that surround me daily.

Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness
The Questions I Wish I Asked my Grandfather Before He Died
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