Life Lessons from “The Old Philosopher”

A lot of people have hope. Don’t spoil it.

When you think you shouldn’t say it, don’t.

When you have nothing to do, do it now.

My grandfather, Marshall Kidd, is the wisest man I know. And I’m not alone in my thinking. The self-proclaimed “Old Philosopher” has made quite the impression through the years, and, now at 95, he’s sharing his witty and insightful aphorisms with more people than ever.

Last year, his daughter (my mother), his two sons and his grandchildren wanted to do something to commemorate him. After some brainstorming, we created  “The Old Philosopher’s Calendar of Wisdom,” an off-the-wall booklet featuring 365 of his colorful insightful quips:

Life is always predictably unpredictable.

Extremes seem to be normal.

We learn more from our failures than our successes.

The calendar came to Grandpa as a surprise. He’d wanted to publish his philosophies, but he wasn’t sure how to go about it. Once he saw the calendar, he couldn’t believe it.

“Making it a calendar is tremendous,” he told us. “This is the best gift I’ve ever received.”

It was a gift for him us, as well as for others.

We didn’t want to keep his philosophies all to ourselves. We felt that many, many people could relate. It was only right we give them the opportunity to read Grandpa’s sayings for just about any topic, be it politics, love or aging.

Being older gives you the advantage of still being alive.

The trouble with politics is that it is either too simple or too complex.

Love is the most important human feeling.


Grandpa shares his wisdom (and puts me to work) at his lake house in New Hampshire. 

“The Calendar of Wisdom” instantly became a must-have for those living with Grandpa at the Huntington, his retirement community in Nashua, New Hampshire. They know these truisms all too well, and many had encouraged him to write them down through the years.

That he did.

So when the calendar came out, they went fast.

“Send more books,” he says just about every time we call. “I’ve run out again.”

My mom hears these requests more than all of us, and it almost always brings tears to her eyes.

“I am so grateful for this calendar,” he tells her. “It is my greatest achievement.”

Although Grandpa is slowing down physically and his memory is starting to slide, he keeps his attitude positive, focusing on the joys of life.

In December of 2017, Grandpa lost his wife, Ann, after 70 years of marriage.

As hard as this loss was for him to take, Grandpa persevered, staying busy at the Huntington by playing clarinet in the band every Monday for Sing-a-Long and starting a discussion group called ABS (Anything But Sports).

In many ways, his incentive to take part in these activities is an example of Grandpa living by his own philosophy:

Learning is what life is all about.

Time is like money in the bank. Don’t waste it.

It is fortunate to be old and still feel good.

Grandpa’s proverbs are a constant reminder each day of his wisdom and his optimism. He often makes me laugh and almost always helps me look on the bright side. Just the other day, I was comforted with his statement, “Be happy! It doesn’t cost anything, and it pays great dividends.” The Old Philosopher knows this better than anybody, and I’m honored to be his grandson.

About CharliesTrail

Originally from Indianapolis, Denison is a writer and musician who has picked up culture and influences from eccentrics all over the U.S. and overseas. He is a University of Kentucky Journalism School grad and an award-winning Montana journalist. Through the years he's had work published by "Chicken Soup From the Soul," DVD Netflix, Montana Quarterly Magazine, NUVO and Americana Highways. He has a solo album, "Whispers of the Lonely," and continues to chip away at his first novel. Currently Denison is the editor of The Boulder Monitor in Boulder, Montana, where he lives with his wife.
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