Remembering My Grandpa Lane, the Introvert

My Grandpa Lane recently passed away, and I was asked to say a few words at his memorial service. I thought some of you other shy, quiet, introverts might get something from what I said, so here it is.

P6280240When Uncle Mick asked me if I’d like to say a few words about my Grandpa Lane at his funeral, I hesitated. I racked my brain for memories of him before he fell ill, and I struggled to come up with anything special. I mean, I remember being in his house as a kid, mostly after church or at Christmas, but I couldn’t remember really doing anything _with_ him, and I couldn’t really remember anything he’d said to me other than “Whaddya want, eggs in your beer?” The truth is that I didn’t know him that well. I’m a quiet guy, and he was a quiet guy, and we just never got around to talking. So that got me thinking about what I remember _about_ him, instead of what I did with him.

Grandpa’s family is loud. I love them all, but his wife is loud, his sons are loud, his daughters are loud, and his grandkids are loud. And when you get them all together, say at Christmas, it’s really … loud, and crazy. There are a dozen conversations going all at once, each one trying to be heard over the others. The family doesn’t seem to notice this, in fact they enjoy it, and I suspect that’s because they’ve always been that way. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being loud and crazy. That’s just how some people are. They’re called extroverts.

The Loud CrowdHowever, some of us are not loud. We actually prefer to sit around quietly, not saying much of anything, just enjoying our surroundings peacefully without disturbing anyone. We’re called introverts. To us, it’s kind of overwhelming when we find ourselves surrounded by them, which is, of course, what happened whenever, as children, we would visit Grandma and Grandpa’s family. I was always somewhat stunned at these events. I remember thinking “What’s going on? Am I supposed to be loud and crazy like the rest of these people? How the heck do I handle this?” It was all very confusing for someone like me.

Then I would look over at Grandpa, quietly sitting in his chair, watching the ruckus all around him. He would slowly look around the room, focus on one part of the chaos for a while, smile to himself, and move on to some other part of the fun. He seemed more like me than like them. He wasn’t loud and crazy, and no one got on his case about not joining in. He was the Head Magee, and he seemed to have no trouble handling the chaos. So I watched what he did, and I tried to do the same things, and I made it through the ruckus. After many years of this, I learned how to handle loud, extrovert-filled events, even when its against my nature to be there.

I think it can be summed up with “If you can’t keep up, just sit back and watch the fun.”

Watching the fun at GRWebDev's Javascript Frameworks MeetingNow I put those skills to use regularly when I organize technology groups and events around town. They’re generally loud, confusing affairs full of smart people talking over each other quickly. It’s hard to keep up, so often I just sit back, smile, and move from one conversation to the next, like I learned from Grandpa.

And I have no idea how it happened, but I think my son is one of those loud, crazy extroverts. I’m sure what I learned will help me to raise George right, just as quiet, calm Grandpa raised his rowdy children to be good people.

Thank you, Grandpa, for teaching me that it’s OK to be quiet, even when you’re surrounded by chaos.

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