Never Too Old

man in black frame eyeglasses

( Intermediate Level )

Grandpa Joe married at the tender age of seventeen his childhood sweetheart. He never finished high school because his father’s cattle business needed extra hands.

This business was eventually passed down to him when his parents died. It wasn’t large by any means. It earned him enough to feed his family and pay the bills.

Joe and his wife had six children which are now grown and have their own families. All of them moved away once they married and started their own families.

Jacob, his eldest son, visited often. He loved getting away from the rat race of the city. Jacob knew the ropes of the cattle business and the hours of dedication it took to be successful.

He admired his dad for this but knew his dad could be much more successful if he had the proper education. He mentioned this to him several times but his father always responded with, “I have no time for this now. The business will not run itself.”

Whenever Jacob visited his parents, he brought his entire family. Especially his eldest son, Johnny. He was getting into quite a bit of trouble including not attending school. He felt getting him away from that environment might do him some good.

He planned on sending him to his father’s ranch during the summer months hoping to redirect him. Grandpa would make him work.

Hard work makes a man out of you,” he remembers his dad telling him and his three brothers. He hated this saying when he was younger but now as a father, he understands how important these words are.

Jacob and his father sat in the barn drinking lemonade when he told his father of his oldest son. “Dad, I really do not know what to do with him. I don’t want to give up on him. He is heading down the wrong path. I don’t think he is into drugs yet and I don’t want this to get to that point.”

“Things are so different these days. We never gave you this much trouble and quite honestly never dared to either,” he said with a smile as he looked at his father.

Joe sat there listening to his son’s concerns and shook his head in affirmation, “Send him here the day school gets out. I will keep him so busy he won’t have time to get into any trouble.

The duration of Jacob’s visit went uneventful. They reminisce about life growing up there. Johnny seemed very disinterested in their stories. He was seen more than once trying to get a signal on his cell phone.

It’s as if we are in a different country. No cell phone signal. No internet. Who lives like this?, he was heard saying. “We do,” his grandfather would say. “All those things we don’t need way out here.”

Johnny’s eyes rolled and you could hear a heavy sigh escape from him. as he walked away. “Better get used to it. You’ll be spending the summer in this foreign country,” Joe said as he laughed and put his hand on his son’s shoulder.

Jacob and his family left that afternoon for home. The school was the next day and both Jacob and his wife had a meeting with the principal before Johnny could attend school again.

Johnny got himself into trouble just before the weekend and he was facing suspension from school. The meeting was to see if there could be a solution before it came to suspension.

After an hour or so of talking with the principal, Johnny was able to stay in school with the provision he did not get into trouble again. If he was suspended he would have to repeat the whole entire year again. This is something Johnny did not want to do.

There were only four weeks left of school. His parents surely felt he would not get into trouble again in such a short time.

Finally, the school year ended. Lo and behold, Johnny didn’t make a mistake. In his mind, if he lived up to his end of the deal then maybe he wouldn’t have to spend the summer with his grandparents.

It didn’t matter to his parents. The same afternoon school ended, Johnny’s father was driving him to the countryside. Much to his surprise, his suitcases were already packed by his mother.

Oh my God, It is as if you two are happy I am being shipped off to Neverland,” he said to his dad. “Couldn’t wait to get rid of me, could you?”

Grandpa Joe can use the extra hands now. Many of the cows are giving birth this time of the year. It is a busy time for him.”

The duration of the ride was in complete silence. Johnny is in his own world and Jacob is in deep thoughts about his son. Hoping his father could change his self-destructive path.

Jacob’s mission was accomplished. Johnny was delivered to his grandparent’s home just about dinnertime. Jacob had to head back home almost immediately since he had to work the next day.

Of course, Johnny was less than thrilled to be there. He could think of better places to be for the summer.

Alright, we have to be up and ready to go by five in the morning,” his grandfather said after dinner. “Make sure you set your alarm. Breakfast will be waiting.”

Johnny couldn’t believe what he just heard. He never had to get up this early when he was in school. “Was his grandfather insane,” he thought to himself.

Five in the morning came way too soon. Johnny drug himself downstairs to see both his grandparents wide awake and fully dressed. “Good morning, sunshine,” his grandfather said with a huge grin on his face. “Grab a bite to eat and we will be leaving in thirty minutes.”

“Sigh, the cows are not going anywhere. Why do we have to be up this early?” You could see the dissatisfied look on Johnny’s face.

We need to be there when the calves are born. There could be complications and we need to be there. Those calves won’t wait until Johnny is ready.” He said followed by a deep belly laugh.

The first day turned out to be the toughest. Johnny worked until he dropped. Although his grandfather’s spread wasn’t large there were many things to do. Moving the cows from one pasture to the next. Feeding not to mention watering.

Six calves were born and their births went well. Grandpa Joe tagged each of their ears and they were logged into a manifest to show those calves belonged to him.

That night Johnny lies in bed, too exhausted to shower or eat. He couldn’t imagine doing this type of work all his life as his grandfather has done.

As the summer trudged on, Johnny accepted the fact he wasn’t going to have fun. He did find himself admiring his grandfather. At his age doing what he did was amazing. He knew this was not what he considered a lifelong job. Not for him at least.

One afternoon, shortly after the last calf of the season was born, tagged and logged into the book, the two sat down under a shade tree. It was the dog days of summer and showed no forgiveness with the high temperatures.

“Grandpa, why didn’t you finish school? Pops told me you quit and helped your dad here. Doing what you are doing now.”

“In those days we really didn’t have a choice. If I didn’t quit then maybe we would have starved. You’ve experienced this work first hand. It isn’t easy.”

“And while we are on the subject of school, what is your issue with school? Ditching school or when you actually go causing so much trouble you are sent home. What gives?”

Johnny looked at his grandpa who sat across from him with a smirk on his face, “It is boring. I would rather do something else.”

“Like what? Like me? Work from sunrise to sunset to barely make ends meet? To wonder if some disease will take out my herd? You better get it together or you will end up old before your time. Your body will hurt constantly. You have an opportunity more than I did at your age. Smarten up!”

This was the first time he heard his grandfather use such a stern voice. He sat there for a moment and responded.

“Ok, I will make a grandfather to grandson deal with you. If I attend school without any more incidents, pass all my classes with good grades, and actually graduate with my class, will you go back to school and get your GED? Then you can finally tell people you have graduated “

Joe knew his grandson was trying to outsmart him but it backfired.I certainly will. This was our busiest time here with all the calves coming in, now that it is over, I will have plenty of time in the evenings to attend classes.”

Johnny’s look on his face was priceless. Grandpa Joe laughed, “ What, you didn’t expect that answer? Your parents care about you just as much as I and grandma do so if this is what it takes to straighten you out then I will live up to my end of this bargain. Deal?”

They shook on this, as men do, and the deal was set. Once Johnny returned to school’ his grandfather would be going back to school also.

That night Johnny couldn’t wait to call his parents as he usually did every Friday. He told his dad of the deal he made with Grandpa. Jacob was smiling, on the other end of the phone. “He did it.” he thought to himself. “Dad did it.”

“Grandpa says that you are never too old to learn something new,” he laughed. “He promised grandma he would stay away from the ladies. Just think, next year this time you will be attending two graduations!”

Written By: Angel

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Instagram: morningangel847

Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Meta Business Suite: Angel’s Thoughts To Pen

Thoughts From Angel:

Your educational career is but just a brief moment in your life. Enjoy it!

If You Appreciate What I do and Would Like to Support Me:


by no means – phrase: not at all

rat race – idiom: a way of life in which people are caught up in a fiercely competitive struggle for wealth or power

dedication – noun: committed to a task or purpose

admired – verb: with respect or warm approval

entire – adjective: no part left out; whole

environment – noun: the surroundings or conditions

affirmation – noun: yes, agreeing

reminisced – verb: enjoyable recollection of past events

disinterested – adjective: no interest in something

principal – noun: he person with the highest authority at a school

suspension – noun: the temporary prevention of something from continuing

provision – noun: the action of providing something

lo and behold – phrase: used to present a new scene, situation, or turn of events

much to his surprise – phrase: very surprised

duration – noun: the time during which something continues

self-destructive – adjective: destroying or causing serious harm to oneself

accomplished – transitive verb: : to bring about (a result) by effort

less than thrilled – idiom: not happy


pasture – noun: and covered with grass 

manifest – noun: book or log to list items

exhausted – adjective: physically tired

trudged – verb: move slowly

dog days of summer– idiom:  the period between early July and early September when the hot weather of summer is at it’s highest

what gives -idiom: something you ask when you aren’t sure why someone is doing something or acting a certain way

smirk – noun: silly smile, smug

barely – adverb: in a simple way

smarten up – phrasal verb: to become more intelligent or aware

incidents – noun: an event or occurrence

GED -acronym : Tests of General Educational Development The GED is high school equivalency diploma, so you can use it to apply to college or for a job resume, just like you would with a high school diploma

backfired – verb: have the opposite effect to what was intended

bargain – noun: an agreement between two or more parties

Question ( s ):

What are your thoughts on Grandpa Joe deciding to go back and getting his GED diploma?

Do you feel it is important to keep your mind and body active especially when you get older?


( Advanced level )

At the young age of seventeen, Akpan had more weight on his shoulders than any other in his village. He was the eldest son of the tribal leader.

When he was younger he hated not having a normal childhood. When his friends went out to play, his father had other ideas for him. He was being groomed for his future responsibilities.

Akpan knew his future was clear. This year, on his eighteenth birthday he would take over the responsibilities for his father and the people. He would become the next leader. Was he ready? Would he make his father and his villagers proud?

On a hot and dusty afternoon, as Akpan sat under a tree, he thought of what the villagers needed the most. Something that could change their future and generations to come. His official duties would begin in less than three months and he wanted to prove, not only to himself but to the people, he was ready.

The people were able to provide enough food to sustain them. Growing vegetables and raising animals. They were able to build basic housing to shelter them from the elements. The only thing they were needing was the opportunity for a proper education.

Most, in his village, were unable to have any type of a formal education. They would use outdated material and books that were donated by different organizations from around the world. Most of Akpan’s own education was from reading. Any chance he had he would read.

His father, too, received his education through life itself. Not having the proverbial brick and mortar schoolhouse did not stop him nor will it stop Akpan.

Once in a while, groups from the western world would come, staying for short periods of time. They helped in any way they could. Mostly, helping the young to learn to read and write.

During this time, Akpan would take the opportunity to ask many questions. Wanting to know as much as he could about the western world, as it seemed so far away.

The latest group, a missionary group from America, had taught them to play baseball using a crude stick and anything they could find that was round and resembled a ball. To this day, they continue to play this game. One day they hope to have a real bat and ball.

When the missionaries left they said they would return, in late summer, when the temperatures cooled. They would return with more donations of clothing, treats, school supplies and non-perishable food.

Akpan remembered them saying, “If they needed anything special, send word to us. We will try to have the supplies when we return.”

Somehow, Akpan had to get word to them. He could write, not eloquently, but they must hear his plea. His mind was filled with what he wanted to say.

The next day he tore a page out of a school book. Most of the pages were filled but he managed to find one page that had one blank side.

And so he began his letter…..

Dear Madam,

On my eighteenth birthday, I will become leader of our tribe. I am ready for this responsibility and welcome any challenges. One thing I want, most of all, is for my people to have the opportunity for a real education.

I want them to have a school. An actual building with new books, desks and a teacher. I want them to have the opportunity that I , nor my father, or my grandfather never had.

I know this is quite a lot to ask from you. Our people have always appreciated everything you have done. You once told us if we needed anything to get word to you, so now I write this letter in hopes that you can help.

We shared stories and ate together. You are considered honorary members of our tribe.

Until we meet again,


He folded the letter and tied a piece of twine around it. His way of sealing it like an official letter. He was proud of his letter. When he was unsure of the spelling of a word, he would thumb through the old school books until he found the word he wanted to use.

He sent it with a runner to the next, much larger, village. From there it would go onto the next village and so on.

He knew it could take up to a month or more to get to its destination. He just hoped it would arrive in time, for them to read, before his special day.

Akpan’s special day had come. His birthday. Moreover, the day in which he would become the new leader. Even though this was the day Akpan waited in anticipation for all his life, his spirits were low. He was hoping the missionaries would have arrived by now, but they hadn’t. He wanted to surprise his father and his village.

The ceremony was simple but beautiful. His father stepped out of their home, with a long bright yellow and red cloth wrapped around one shoulder flowing down to what seemed to be like a long skirt.

On his head was a simple matching yellow and red headpiece. In his left hand he held a small wooden ceremonial club. The club was carved with ornate birds and nestled at the top were beautiful blue feathers of the shoebill stork, cascading downward.

Akpan turned to face his father, as the villagers chanted to the cadence of the drums. His father bowed his head down as if he was giving a nod. He then passed the ceremonial club to Akpan, signifying the transfer of leadership to him.

As the summer came to an end, Akpan had settled into his new role. Making sure enough dry food was stored for the cooler months ahead. Fish were sun dried and stored . Meat was cured and salted.

He would often look down the long dusty road that led into his village. He wondered if his letter had made it to its destination. With the passing of many months, he felt it had not.

The cooler months had come and gone and new life was springing up. The trees, that lay dormant, began to show green. The wild grass had started to pry its way through the dry earth. The rains will come soon. He knew it would be time to plant this year’s crops.

Many of the wild animals would be giving birth within the next few months and this meant he would have to make sure the fencing around the crops would keep them out. The young were always inquisitive and the smells of the new vegetables were enticing. Cute as they are, the crops would be destroyed within hours.

A few months had passed and summer was approaching. The villagers would be harvesting the first crops and replanting for the next. Usually two harvests would suffice the village until the next spring.

Early one morning, the villagers were busy getting their day started. The men were tending to the animals as the women were preparing the morning meal. Life was going like clockwork.

The men had finished with the animals just about the time breakfast was ready. The women were busy gathering up the children so they, too, could have their breakfast.

One young boy came running yelling, “Akpan, Akpan…look!” as he pointed down the road. In the distance, Akpan could see not one, not two but three large trucks headed their way.

Akpan walked to the edge of the road and began to smile. Could this be what he asked for? He had given up all hope on his letter and his wish.

As the trucks drew closer, all of the people had gathered around Akpan. They, too, were watching and confused about what they saw.

The first truck came to a complete stop just a few feet from the group. Out of the passenger side jumped a small framed woman, who the villagers had recognized. She ran up to Akpan, with a huge smile across her face, she extended her arms out for an embrace.

“It has been a long time, my friend. I received your letter and it took me a while to organize such a feat, but here we are! We have enough materials to build your schoolhouse. We have new school books and desks. And we have arranged for teachers, from all over the world, to come and teach 3 months at a time.”

Akpan just stood there. Gazing at the trucks filled with what would change the future of his village. The village children squealed with delight.

Akpan’s father had been standing behind him and heard the whole conversation. He was so proud of his son. He had grown into a strong , confident man and what a great leader he had become.

Written by : Angel

If you appreciate what I do:

Follow me on:

Instagram: morningangel847

Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5


weight on his shoulders – idiom: many problems or responsibilities

groomed – verb: prepare 

sustain – verb: supply and nourish

elements – noun: weather or conditions

formal – adjective: official

outdated – adjective: out of date

proverbial – adjective: well known, traditional

brick and mortar – adjective: physical presence of a building

missionary group – noun: group of people sent into an area to promote education, literacy, health care, and economic development

crude – adjective: makeshift

resembled – verb: features of the real object or person

non-perishable – adjective: used to describe an item, usually food, that can be stored for a long time without spoiling.

eloquently – adverb: fluent or persuasive 

plea – noun: request

honorary-adjective: an honor or distinction

twine – noun: strong thread or rope usually several twisted together

anticipation – noun: expect or predict

ceremonial – adjective: formal or ritual

ornate – adjective: decorated with patterns, objects or symbols

nestled – verb: settle comfortably within or against something

cascading – verb: to flow or fall

cadence – adjective: rhythm, tempo , beat

dormant- adjective : deep sleep or inactive 

inquisitive – adjective: curious

enticing – adjective: tempting

suffice – verb: enough

tending – verb: to take care of 

clockwork – adjective: very routine *note: clockwork can be a noun if describing a particular mechanism or gears in a clock*

embrace – verb: hold closely 

feat – noun: achievement 


Do you think everyone deserves an opportunity to receive an education?

Have you ever known of anyone who had not finished their education? Had to drop out of school?