A few weeks ago as my family and I were shopping for a shower curtain in Bed, Bath and Beyond, I came across a bag of “gourmet” licorice. Now, I haven’t had any “plain” black licorice in years — I’m talking probably nearly twenty. While I had never heard of the brand, Lucky Country, I had seen their bags around and was intrigued.

See, what intrigued me was not the licorice or the brand or the packaging, but the fact that when I saw it, I remembered Grandpa. He died about ten years ago. My parents divorced when I was young, and I was raised by my mother. She moved “back home”, and we lived with her parents for many years. Grandpa remains in my heart and mind as a very foundational figure.

If I were to compare him to any “commonly” known fictional character, I would have to refer to him as Archie Bunker. Grandpa was a cantankerous sort. He liked to argue simply to shake things up and make others think. If you did not have a decent argument to come back with, you were wise not to try to argue. He enjoyed discussion for discussion’s sake. He believed that if you could not defend your arguments then you did not need to bother expressing them.

Unlike many today, he did not base his ideas on emotions. He would get emotional about his beliefs, but he methodically constructed his defenses and arguments through reason. He was a very typical white, Anglo-saxon, Protestant in mindset and opinion.

I remember at times being frustrated with some of his views; although I probably could not tell you exactly why at this point — that was decades ago. Through his consistent reminder to think and process thoughts, I believe I have become a fairly well-reasoned individual.

Like him, I am very conservative in most of my religious, political and social views, and like him, I look towards reason to inform my thoughts and decisions. I know that if he were alive today, he and I would have discussions aplenty about things that we probably would disagree — I tend to be a little more progressive in my thoughts regarding “race” and women’s rights than he was. However, I think I would probably win him over to my thinking through well-reasoned, probably somewhat heated discussions.

As I was saying before, I found this bag of black licorice candy that reminded me of Grandpa. I never knew a lot about him, but one thing I remember quite vividly was his fondness for black licorice.

It was never my favorite candy, but I liked it.

I am now a father of five (with a sixth on the way). I hope to teach my own children the value of reason and thoughtful discussion.

There are so many things I am thankful to God for about Grandpa — so many memories that bring back good times from my childhood where he might have taken me fishing or to work or the like.

I bought the licorice. Each bite brings back little memories of him. Each taste reminds me of times long gone — times special to me because I was blessed to know my Grandpa.