Glenn: I’m becoming my grandfather

A couple of years ago, I built a home nestled in a canyon between two mountains on the edge of a national forest.

It is where I go to rest, reflect and center my family and myself. It is a small house and none of the doors match. The architects and builders who worked on it didn’t understand what I was doing at first. The plans had called for these beautiful doors and matching cabinetry throughout. Instead, we went to old yard sales and second hand stores and bought old dressers and vanities and made them into sinks for the bathrooms. We said no to the heavy $1500 doors and purchased 10 or twelve old used doors for no more than a 100 bucks each. None of them matched in either size or color. We had them installed as almost all shook their heads.

“Why would this family that could have the best, use these doors and cabinets?” They all wondered. What they figured out once it was finished, was – we had a different definition of “best”. We wanted something real. Authentic. Something that felt like the house my grandfather built.

Grandpa Janssen was a jack-of-all-trades. A man who never made it to the fourth grade, yet could speak or understand at least four languages. He couldn’t read and he made sure no one knew that, as he was the top machinist at Boeing in Seattle. Little did his bosses know he couldn’t read any of the blue prints. He didn’t need to, he could figure it out.

My grandfather never had a lot of money and so everything he built was from scrap and nothing matched and yet strangely in the end, just like our small home in the mountains, everything matched.

Last night, I think I became my grandfather.

In the summer, back on his tiny farm we would come to visit and work all summer, feeding the chickens, cleaning out the coupes and gathering the eggs. I don’t think we ever got “paid” – it was just what we did. The summer nights were hot and there wasn’t an air-conditioned house on the entire street. I would always sleep in the attic. It was hotter up there, but without the attic it was a one-bedroom house. My sisters would sleep with my grandma downstairs where it was cooler and my grandfather would open the door smaller than the rest and climb the impossibly steep steps to the attic where the two of us would try to sleep. We rarely fell to sleep rapidly. It wasn’t just the heat or lack of breeze. Rather, it was my grandfather’s stories of his childhood and life, be them made up or true.

It was hot last night at the base of “my mountain”.

Tania and Cheyenne slept in the kid’s room while Raphe and I opened up the windows in my room and tried to get to sleep. We didn’t try very hard and it wasn’t the heat or lack of breeze.

First we talked about the events of the day, the hard work rounding up the cows, mending a fence, looking for badgers and my sons first time “loping” with his horse. Suddenly I felt my grandfather’s life merging with mine. I smiled and told my son some of the tales that my grandfather told me as we tried to get to sleep. We laughed, shushed each other as to not wake the others in the house. And before long, I had pulled out the flashlight next to the bed stand.

I, just as my grandfather had done, propped it on my pillow and we began to make shadow puppets on the wall. Cops and robbers quickly followed birds and bears. It was in the middle of a bear vs. Godzilla fight when my wife suddenly appeared and simple said, “Boys, knock it off and go to sleep.”

We both sheepishly grinned and said that we were sorry and that she was right.

I kissed my son good night as he snuggled close by my side, safe, content and sleepy. As I lay there smiling, I reflected on just how much I love and miss my grandfather. It was at that moment that I remembered my summers in the attic as with the help of the moonlight I could just make out my mismatched door.

  • Sally Ann Doyle

    Your son will always remember this! What a great dad you are!!!!

    • Christina Jeremy


      ☰☰☰ ☰�☰☰ ☰☰☰ ☰☰�☰ ☰☰☰

  • Anonymous

    I miss my Grandfather to! And now I am one!

  • Connor Kenway

    I miss my grandfather. He always knew what to say and what you should do.

    • Arnold Young

      Grandfathers do that. I am a grandfather now and also try to tell stories with a purpose. I think my son will attest to that. Some of the things they remember amaze me.

  • Amy Mailot Rochus

    Glenn, thank you for being “one of us”, even though you could have the best of anything like your contractors thought. This story made me choke up….because it is so real to many of us! My 5 siblings and I grew up in a single wide trailor, with a mom who stayed home and cared for us and our dad who worked his rear off. We had so little! We had some cousins who were the same age as us, but they were wealthy, and wanted for nothing, went on the best vacations. We never knew a vacation, and for fun played in the corn rows in dad’s garden, made mud pies and had “Christmas in July” by decorating our pine tree with daisies. Even then, I would not have traded places with my cousins! We loved our parents, being together in our little trailor, and God! Thank you for telling this story! I totally understand why you have mismatched doors and old dressers:)

  • Diane

    Wonderful and delightful reading. Thank you Mr. Beck and family for being just who you are.

  • Roger Ringer

    My grandfather was not a really close huggy type. He always was teaching even though you did not know it. He taught how to plow a straight furrow and plant a straight row. He taught me how to use what you had and over build everything. He owned a Super C Farmall tractor that every kid in the country learned to drive on. Most thought that it was small and a great kid tractor. By the time you could master the narrow front wheels and harrow without running it up on the tire and not get throwed when the front axle broke off in a badger hole, you could drive any tractor of any size. He took up a lot of slack from my other grandpa because he took his own life when I was 11. I still remember his stories and his slipping in lessons I still am realizing even though we never slept in the attic and did shadow puppets. The time you spend with your kids will be magic long after you are gone and they are telling your stories to their kids.

  • Barnara Apon

    Awesome…the art of story telling lives on in Glenn Beck….my Dad was like your grandfather in more ways then one…could not read till my Mom taught him at 56 years of age…he ran his own business and traded in the stock markets…CDs and so on….was a master at Math…could bluid anything from nothing….was the well man for miles around…had a farm…cows, goats, pigs, chickens and for fun horses and mules…owned and work the best Grocery store for miles around…drove a school bus for 22 years…put in his own central heat and air in our family home when he was 82 years old…I mean all the duck work to wiring….but the one thing he could do …that really made him awesome, he could tell a story…you could smell, feel and hear the stories…always hanging on every word no matter how many times you heard the story…the very moments spent were priceless….so miss my Dad….J.T. Barwick was his name….

  • gee-enn

    Great story Glenn!

  • Anonymous

    Is this the same house you showed pics from when your beloved dog was portrayed ? If so, I I throw the BS flag. No shame in admitting you’re rich Glenn. “Small house ” Lol

    • Anonymous

      Not the same house! The dog was in the Texas (big) house. The farm is in the Mountain West. He did the Christmas special last Christmas at the Farm!

      • Anonymous

        Easy there . That’s why I posed the question! Thanks for the clarification. But I say again, stop with the poor me act. “I own multiple houses, but but this one is small”

    • Sunshine43
      • Anonymous

        I certainly am not. Just asked a question. .which a way kinder person answered..but you go on doing you. .

  • katie

    Love your story Glenn!

  • Kim Hatch

    Loping the horse… that will be a memory he won’t forget either Glenn, and as I always say, you can’t get to heaven till you’ve been bucked off a horse and then gotten back on… horses and life.

  • landofaahs

    I became my Father. Nobody had a better childhood than I did

  • Margie Jones

    Glenn you are living my dream as well as yours. I had a wonderful unforgettable childhood thanks to parents that really loved me. Enjoy your time with your family. As you know, children grow up quickly.

  • Donna

    Fantastic Glenn.God Bless you and yours and God Bless America.Thank you for sharing:)

  • Donna

    The missed matched doors and the like; its all about the character.We should hope to all be a missed matched door.Once again Thanks for sharing and reminiscing.God Bless.Shalom my friend

  • Chris Layton

    Reminds me of the movie “Elf”
    “First, we’ll make snow angels for 2 hours, then we’ll go ice skating, then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then, we’ll snuggle” (Buddy the elf)

    It’s a romantic illusion isn’t it? I mean, who can dispute that good times with your family are important, but look at the focus and consider, Is this man really grounded in reality or is he trying to create a fantasy?

    We’re all happy for Glenn that he is happy and successful and taken care of. That’s great. It’s what we’d hope would be the reality for all people.

    But it isn’t.

    So it’s time to deal with the reality of life. We’re not going to buy mismatched doors for our homes because we want to create the illusion of returning back to a simpler time, we’re doing it because that is reality. It’s what we have to do because these are the circumstances that the majority of Americans are now facing.

    So it’s time to roll up our sleeves and really get to work. It’s time to make some choices. Time to make a stand. It’s time to fish or cut bait. It’s time to decide who we can count on and who stands for our core values and who doesn’t. Time to gather together with like minds with Christian values and separate ourselves from the mob.

    Who is going to protect your family when it really comes down to a crisis situation? Will we remain dependent on others to come to our rescue or will we finally realize that we’ve got to be responsible for ourselves, that we’re the only sheriff in town, that we’re the king of our castle when it comes to protecting our families and our way of life?

    We need to be realistic and we need to be responsible. We can’t live in Glenn’s fairytale land. I used to love Disney movies, but you know what? As an adult I can’t stand them anymore. They have no reverence for the family, are often promulgating dysfunctional relationships with satire and indifference and now it’s being mixed in with magic and craft and sorcery. It’s not wholesome anymore. It used to be, but it isn’t now. My point is that it all starts out with a little focus on something I would call an Idol. Something common or something necessary for the time, a tool or a car or a house or even something as simple as a door. We all use these things because they become a means to an end but an idol on the other hand becomes the end of a means and it becomes something reverenced, perhaps even adored. It’s so subtle that if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it.

    How often have we read the bible wondering how the children of Israel could be so dumb as to worship a golden calf when they knew it was wrong? Didn’t they know better? Why did they fall into that same trap that they have fallen into over and over and over again? It’s because we’re complacent by nature. We want comfort and whatever will bring us comfort we will revere. God doesn’t want us to be comfortable because of the things we’ve surrounded ourselves with. He wants us to be up and doing, learning, growing, and stretching for the heavens because we’ve got some rows to hoe and a pathway home to walk and rules of the road to learn. We’d better find out who we really can trust in and leave off the rest. It’s why He said “Woe be unto them that are at ease in Zion!” (Amos 6:1)

    So, Glenn’s asleep and he’s dreaming. Let him keep on sleeping and let him alone. Perhaps one of these days he just might wake up again.

  • Lisa Renee’ Jones

    I’ve found so much peace in living simply and self reliant. After reading this post, I am going to get my Great Grandmother’s stories she wrote down that she used to tell me every night before I went to bed as a child (she was my room mate). I’m going to turn her stories into a book. Inspired.

  • RandPaulBallz21

    Glenn Beck should not be allowed around young children like this

  • Sunshine43

    Beautiful story! I recall my gramma and I doing some of the same things. I’m older than you Glenn, and I’m sure that I AM my gramma! (At least I’ve been told that by my brother who remembers.)
    This story brought me to tears, but they were good tears!

  • Kilburn Hall

    Glenn- As Jimmy Buffet once said, “We are the people our parents warned us about.”

  • Dawn Williams

    I heard you read this Saturday to at the fund raiser, thank you. When you spoke of sleeping in the attic you were describing my summers with my Grandparents in Challis, Idaho in the house that my Grandpa built. Up the stairs which he had never nailed down the treads to the attic full of family treasures, sleeping on the old iron bed while the “mud daubers” (wasps) buzzed over head. The hot air slowly cooled by morning. The next day filled with taking care of Gramma’s huge garden and cooking the harvest that came from it for dinner. It is to bad that those who are so quick to attack you don’t have the opportunity that some of us very lucky people have to get to see and hear you in the venues like Saturday night and the one like it last summer. There we get to see that, like sleeping in the hot attic, we are very much the same. The only real difference is that when God said “I need you to do this” you heard and answered. And I can’t wait to see G. Washington’s head cut into the hay field!

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