The most important man in my life was my step-grandad, Frank Cherry.
He arrived in my grandma Anne’s life five years after grandad Harry died.
Frank Cherry lived around the corner from my grandma. And after his wife had passed away, Frank and Anne got together.
Frank’s first wife knew she was dying so made lists of things that the soon-to-be-widowed Frank should buy. For himself. For after she’d gone. Frank knew that the lists were a little extreme. But he bought what his first wife wanted anyway.
10 pairs of pyjamas. 20 pairs of socks. Endless shirts (“with collar”). And a few without.
It was what she wanted.
Frank Cherry was the first man that really listened to me. He was patient and kind. A gentleman.
He was tolerant of my high maintenance grandma Anne too. Never raising his voice. Always smiling. And his eyes were always focused on her when she was around. He’d decided that my grandma was the person he wanted to end his days with.
And he did.
One day, when he was patiently listening to a 16 year old me, we explored what it was like to get older.
To help me understand ageing, Frank Cherry referred to his eyes as windows.
He explained that I would look out of the same two windows all of my life. Every day.
Frank also explained that the man behind the windows would stay pretty much the same.
He knew that, at the time, some people in my life were not good to me. And not good for me. They chipped away at me.
It was not his way to interfere. But he did want me to stay true to the person I was inside. No matter what people said to me. Or what people did to me.
Most importantly, he told me that I didn’t need to change. That I was OK.
That was his gift to me.
Back then, I didn’t really understand the ‘windows’ thing.
Time has helped me to do that.
Through the windows of my eyes, in the mirror, I see many changes in me. On the outside.
But Frank Cherry was right. The person behind the windows is still pretty much the same.
When I think back to what mattered to me at 16; what hurt me, what I loved and what I feared, many are still exactly the same today.
I think that it’s important to stay true to yourself. To have confidence in what you believe in from even a very young age. To protect what matters to you.
Because as Frank predicted, the young me is still here.
The same old me. Behind the windows.
“Who were you before the world told you what you were not?”
Bryant McGill. Human potential thought leader, international bestselling author, activist, and social entrepreneur. 1969 – present.