A little hard work is good for ya!

If there was one thing that my Granddaddy really believed in, it was hard work.  If you don’t believe me, just ask my Dad.  My Dad spent his entire honeymoon (in mid-August 1972) helping his new father-in-law dig the footings for the little one-bedroom/one-bathroom house that my Grandparents lived in down at the coast. 


When we seven grandkids came along, Granddaddy tried his hardest to pass that work ethic down to us.  Each trip to Grandmama and Granddaddy’s included some kind of project—cutting grass, raking leaves, planting flowers, painting my great-grandmother’s house, installing outdoor lights between the garage and the house…. 

We kids learned quickly to never make the mistake of saying that we were bored.  Granddaddy had a large pile of bricks that we used to climb and play on.  One day when one of us remarked that we were bored, Granddaddy made us move the entire pile of bricks to the opposite side of the yard, two bricks at a time.  When we’d gotten the entire pile moved, he looked at it and said, “No, I think I liked it better where it was.  Move it back.”  So huffing and puffing, we carried them all back, two at a time.

When my brother and I were thirteen and fourteen years old, our Dad had a friend who was trying to run a floundering roof-truss business.  Somehow, Bubba and I found ourselves (underage and unpaid) working at the truss factory.  We swept floors, fished scraps of lumber out of the sawdust bin, helped build trusses, and then band them together for delivery.  And somehow, even in that un-air-conditioned warehouse, somebody convinced me that I was having fun.

One thing that Granddaddy and Daddy had in common was that they gave good rewards for work well done.  Granddaddy believed in praising people—bragging on them and building them up.  Daddy’s more of a gift-giver.  One of my favorite memories of working at the truss factory was that sometimes at the end of a hot, sweaty work day, they would cut a fresh, iced watermelon.  At that age, I didn’t even like watermelon.  But somehow, on those days, it was no chore to stand in the parking lot in the baking sun and eat that sweet, cold, dripping watermelon.  And sometimes, if it was really hot and we were really grubby, my parents would drive us straight to the lake and toss us in with a bar of soap.

For as long as I can remember, Granddaddy wore glasses.  But when I was a teenager, his eyesight really started to fail and they diagnosed him with macular degeneration.  The spring I was seventeen, he grudgingly gave up his driver’s license and began spending most of his time at home.  That obviously gave him more time to get projects done and this usually worried my grandmother because she couldn’t always keep track of his projects. 

One weekend while I was visiting, my grandmother and I were working on some housework when Grandmama realized that she hadn’t heard from Granddaddy in a while.  I walked out the front door just in time to see my blind grandfather swinging an ax at a tree root next to his foot.  The ax made a gash in the soft sand next to his foot just as I got to him.

“Granddaddy, can I do that?”  I didn’t wait for an answer.  I reached over and put my hand on the ax handle. 

“The water isn’t draining away from the house right.  It’s pooling here in front of the bathroom window.  We need to get the roots out of the way.”

And so, with Granddaddy supervising and me swinging the ax and pushing the shovel, we re-dug the drainage ditch on the side of their little house.  We must’ve done pretty good, because it’s still draining pretty good over a decade later.   

I can’t say that I always enjoyed the work that Granddaddy and Daddy required of me.  Sometimes, I did the work while complaining or whining.  Usually, even if I didn’t complain or whine out loud, I was grumbling in my heart.  But when I look back over my life, I realize that many of my favorite memories are the little work projects that I hated while I was doing them.  They were precious little lessons disguised as manual labor.

We lost Granddaddy in October of 1999, but every time I see a snow-white-haired gentleman or hear an old man whistle or hear the Star Spangled Banner or hear the ocean or smell fresh-cut grass or push a shovel, I remember him and the love that he had for me.

As for Daddy… 


Daddy, I know that being my Daddy is tough business.  You want to be my hero.  You want to slay all of the dragons and keep the wolves away from the door.  And as a little girl, that was exactly what I needed.  It has been painful for us, growing up together.  There came a day when I had to choose to either let you take care of me or let God take care of me.  And so, even though I didn’t really understand what I was doing, I walked away and into God’s hands.  It was hard for us and I wasn’t sure that we were going to recover from it.  But we have.  I thank God for you.  And I thank God for helping you to let me be who He has called me to be, even when it’s hard for you to watch.  I love you.  I’m glad that you’re my Daddy and that you’re still willing to slay the dragons when I need you to.  (PS- Are you ready to come back to the mission field with me?  We’re talking about Southeast Asia for 2010 or 2011!!)


About Sarah Salter


  1. Sarah, I’m blessed every time I come here. What an amazing tribute.

  2. Your dad must be so proud of you and the woman you’ve become. Your light shines so brightly in this dark sin-filled world. I’m blessed and encouraged everytime I visit your blog. Hope we have a chance to meet one day. I sure would love that.

  3. Neal Salter says:

    I am extremely proud of you and Chris. Sarah, you are very special and the older we get the more I see what God has really allowed you to become. You’ve got your Mother’s brains and I hope by now, you see you have my guts. Yes, life hasn’t always been easy and unfortunately many times I was the reason for difficulties. As you and Chris have remarked in recent years, I must be mellowing. I hope what is really happening is that Jesus is getting me into the shape of the person He called me to be. Keep up the good work! By the way, I moved those blocks after granddaddy died. If you or Chris get bored, I’ll show you where they have been stored.

Speak Your Mind