Letter to My Grandpa (Part 2)

robert hoffer

Read the first part of my letter to Grandpa here.

Dear Grandpa,

It’s me again. And you’ve still been on my mind. I’ll tell you, there have been some tough moments in the last two years. I suppose some of those moments will be present every year, pandemic or not. But, the difference in the previous two years is how the challenges have invaded all walks of life. There have been divisions even in places where unity should be ingrained — like the local church. It is almost as if people are looking for something to meet all of their needs. And when it isn’t there, they leave or stop persisting. 

I have grumbled, struggled, and gritted my teeth. But I have persisted. There have been many others who have too, so I am not special. You would be proud of how people have shown up at the company you started. Some of those people worked alongside you, while others have no idea who you were. But your influence is still palpable in the building, as is the influence of others who have since moved on. It’s true: there is a part of us in every piece. 

Persistence is something that your WWII generation knew a lot about; you had to persist to survive. Ironically, after decades of abundance, comfort, and relative safety, it is something that I’m finding now has to be cultivated. This lesson is not lost on me — over the last year, I’ve found myself reading books on your generation, so I’m reminded that what I am being asked to do is minimal in view of history. As we say these days, our problems are of the first-world variety. This perspective is needed to persist. And I will persist. 

“I want my life to be about impacting others, helping them succeed, and hopefully forming lifelong relationships.” 

I keep a small vial of sand from Omaha Beach in Normandy on my desk. While you did not serve in Europe, I keep it here to remind me that sacrifice is necessary to preserve peace. What we are doing at Hoffer Plastics is on a much different scale, but I recognize that it is similarly important in impacting the lives of those it touches. To this end, I want my life to be about impacting others, helping them succeed, and hopefully forming lifelong relationships. This is the intersection of meaning and fun. It is the focus I need to keep showing up and persisting. 

It is also one of the things that I think about when I drive by your old house on Wing Park Boulevard. Bigger and better are not always bigger and better. More is sometimes less. Focus allows me to grasp the things that matter and let go of the vain pursuits of yesteryear. 

And when the day is over, I go home, walk into my house, and see my wife. And as corny as this sounds, I often think to myself that I am the luckiest man in the world. Then my kids do something annoying to snap me back into reality. I later remind myself that I will miss that “annoyance” very soon. I hug them and regain my perspective all over again. 

I also think about how much fun you would have had with them. Gosh, I wish they could know you. 

Moments of beauty and moments of chaos, followed by moments of more beauty. 

A renewed focus. 

Renewed persistence. 

I have never stopped thinking of you when I walk our production floor. To be honest, I go out there to remember you. 

I loved you, Grandpa. And I still do.

I’ll write you again next year. Until then, I remain your loving grandson.