Mr. Andrews – A Grandfather’s Influence
A grandfather is a special person for a boy. The role of a grandfather in a boy’s life can be one of the most powerful and influential ones. I guess that explains why I had such an instant connection with Mr. Andrews.
When I met Mr. Andrews, he was 81 years old, I was 27, and both of my grandfathers were gone. That was important because I subconsciously longed to have that grandfather-grandson relationship once more, especially in the outdoors. Since I had an interest in learning to make knives, I was referred to this retired well driller from Carnegie, Georgia to teach me the art. Not many visits passed before I realized that my time with him was more than knife making. One of our favorite activities was feeding his catfish and fishing in his small pond down the hill from his modest, white house.
On that parcel of land, with his barns, his house, his pond and his pines, I learned so much about life merely observing the man that Mr. Andrews was. Making antler knives and fishing connected the two of us, but the pull was deeper than that. He showed me things and taught me lessons that will last my lifetime.
In one of his many lessons on patience, he eventually showed me the secrets of his “Almost Famous Catfish Stew.” I had to earn the right to his knowledge. The whole lesson was based on patience and a way of life. In a sense, my time with him was a metaphor for how to become a better Christian man. Mr. Andrews used knife making and fishing as the main attractions to draw my attention but subtly steered my training toward improving myself. I was the knife that Mr. Andrews shaped and the fish that he caught. Sure, he was happy with his literal knife creations and fish he caught, but I believe that I was one of his greatest works of all.
Mr. Andrews was more focused on the morals of a man than anything that showed on the outside. There was very little room for pride in his mind. His focus was on nothing tangible but on the real aspect of Heaven, where a person’s true self is revealed after all the earthly, physical traits fall away.
Now, this “honorary grandson” of Mr. Andrews carries on his teachings through an ideal I call “Famous Catfish Stew.” (I dropped the “almost.”) It is more than a mere recipe that he showed me (a good one I might add). It is the whole lifestyle that teaches me through symbolism and metaphors, and this lifestyle is rooted in the outdoors. How much we can learn from hunting and fishing! If there is a better way for an older person to connect to a kid, I have not seen it. I urge the GON community to recognize the power in teaching the youth through outdoor activities, and whether you have grandchildren or not, it is never too late to “adopt” another kid to pass on what you know. It is never too late to be a Mr. Andrews.