What the World Needs Now


What the World Needs Now

After what seems like forever, I made my way to Pittsburgh to see the family and most importantly, my father Ernie. Dad is a newlywed at 91 years old; you don’t often see that. One might ask what a man his age was looking for in a woman. Some say: “A Nurse or a Purse!” Dad didn’t need either of those. While not rich by any means, he has enough for the quality of life he enjoys for the years that he has left. His wife, Judy, does look after him well, as he does her. I was quite impressed when she corrected my father on the name of the current second baseman for the Pirates. 

Dad and I had a long breakfast together at Cracker Barrel. No surprise, we both ordered the Breakfast Sandwich. Why not? The Italian Eggs were $8.99 and had the same components as the Breakfast Sandwich at $4.99! After endless horrible watered downed cups of coffee, I prefer to chew mine, we found that the clock had ticked the morning away. 

Normally, dad is a slow speaker, choosing his words carefully and not “Wasting Words” as he says. I, on the other hand, am a “Word Waster.” I don’t agree, but it is my label. I remember telling all my kids the same. If you are writing a story, there are two ways to start it. One way will get the entire story read and the other will only get one sentence read. Here’s an example.

The wrong way:

Joe went walking in the park, he didn’t have a good time.

The right way:

It was too early to get up with for Joe this morning after binge watching the Black List until 3 AM, but the dog needed to be walked, and he promised his girlfriend he would do it. Off to the park they went. The rain was miserable when added to the freezing temps, and the park never seemed so far away. It was a miserable morning, but the rest of the day held out some hope.

Both say the same thing….Joe went to the park and it sucked. You choose which lens you view life through.

I got to ask dad questions that had me wondering for years. Questions about his and mom’s relationship and how various times in their life together had affected them. He was quite honest, and I appreciated that. A common theme was respect and kind words. Everyone wants respect and kind words. In fact, right now, that is what the world needs more of. 

My father’s dad, he called him “Pop,” was an amazing man. He was an immigrant from Italy and the language barrier was always a bit of a challenge. That is probably why my father is a man of few words, he learned it from his father. What words my grandfather did say were surely powerful. Grandpa was married to Rose. Rose wasn’t like grandpa. She had a sharp tongue and was very low on two of the five Maslow’s needs: Love and Belonging, as well as Esteem. Grandpa could have written the book on those two categories. I felt bad for dad when he said that though he actually grew up on Apple Ave. in Pittsburgh, dad’s apple didn’t necessarily land near grandpa’s tree. 

He felt he came short in those categories. It’s true. My mother was the softer gentler parent and the intuitive, one as well, at least during my growing up years. My dad has more than made up for the gruffness he showed when I was a child. He has softened with age, and he is proud of my life achievements. We don’t linger on failure, there’s no need to. He freely tells me that he loves me, and while I waited a long time to hear those words from him, they are all sincere and heartfelt. 

My father said that his Pop was the kindest and most loving person he had ever met. I had never heard him say that before. I always felt the same. My grandfather was the perfect example of love that I may have ever encountered. He lived with a carbon copy of Mary Todd Lincoln as his wife, but that negativity didn’t permeate into his heart. 

Grandpa was the most esteeming person I ever met. Every time we went to his house, he opened a bottle of Moscato wine and insisted that we toast to a great future. That we toast to our college education, to our future jobs, and to the positive impact that we would make on this world and this country. Did I forget to say that this started when I was about 9 years old? 

Imagine celebrating every time we were in his presence. I felt like I could do no wrong and that failure was not an option. Since his language skills were modest, he seemed to learn only words of affirmation in English. I know that grandpa would be so proud of me today, as well as my brothers and sisters, for what we all have done. 

Once while my father was building a skyscraper on Wacker Drive in Chicago, my grandfather was able to visit the site with my father, who was the General Superintendent of the project. Being offered a chance to take the construction elevator to the top, my feeble, elderly grandfather joined my dad on the top of the Leo Burnett Building and looked over the Chicago skyline. My grandfather asked my dad, “Who taught you how to build such a building as this?” Dad said, “You did Pop, it was you!” 

John Trent and Gary Smalley wrote a book called “The Blessing.” In Jewish culture, it is common for the patriarch of the family to give a blessing over the children. Our family did this many years ago for our children. If you want to learn more about modeling what my grandfather did intuitively and what this book intentionally explains, it would be my pleasure to send you a copy of “The Blessing.” Just email me and give me an address where to send it.

You all know that I don’t do everything right. That is an undisputable fact. But what I do know is what feels right. Starting today, act as if you are my grandfather who only had limited English words in his vocabulary. Words he DIDN’T say include: Hate, You can’t do that, Failure, Not smart enough, That’s good enough, Not sure if I can get to it. Words he DID say include: I love you, Yes, I’m so proud of you, You can do it, When you graduate college, You have such a bright future.

Let’s put this into action today. Pretend that your language doesn’t include a hint of negativity or sarcasm. Those words simply don’t exist in your new language. Begin speaking your new language today. You’ve got this! I know you can do it! 

What the world needs now are more Grandpa Pignats (the Italian spelling).


Jeff Pinyot

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Jeff Pinyot
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