As good as I can be


“Yes, Squirt?”

A conversation, between a grandfather and his grandson had just begun.

“Are you okay?” the grandson asked, in his most matter-of-fact tone.

The two were out for an afternoon walk — something the older, but still trying to be spry, gentleman enjoyed almost as much as his young ward. The boy’s innocent question didn’t come as a complete surprise. He was an inquisitive cherub — asking questions about real things — expecting real answers. Once he asked about where the water goes when the toilet was flushed. It required a plumber to explain because the kid refused to accept answers similar to, “I don’t know. Go ask your dad.”

“People are always checking up on you,” said the grandson. “When we walk past people they ask you, ‘How ya’ doing?’ and, “How is it going?’ and stuff like that. Why are they wondering if you are okay?”

“That’s just the way people greet each other, kiddo,” explained the grandfather. “It means ‘hello’ — but, with more words.”

“If it only means ‘hello’, why do you always tell them that you are ‘great,’ or ‘couldn’t be better,’ or that kind of stuff? What does that mean, then? You always tell Grandma that your back hurts and your leg feels like it’s going to rain. Is that what ‘great’ means?”

“Well, Short-Britches,” began the grandfather. “Usually, when people ask about how you are doing, they don’t really want to know. I’m pretty sure that none of them are really interested in my sore back, my nagging cough, or how my meds tend to clog me up.”

“What’s that mean?”

“Be glad you don’t know,” laughed the grandfather, “My favorite thing to tell people is that I am as good as I can be. It’s the truth, ya’ know. I’m always just as good as I can be. If I could be any better — then, I would be that good and that would be as good as I can be.

The little boy looked at his grandpa and tugged on those sage words for a few seconds. “What’s that mean?’ he finally asked.

“You’ll understand it soon enough, Mr. Big,” the grandfather chuckled. “If you tell everyone that asks — even the people that don’t really care — that you are doing great, then, chances are, you will be doing great. You won’t even notice a few aches and pains.”

“Then, if you are great and don’t really hurt,” slowly continued the boy as he wrestled with his grandfather’s logic. “Why do you tell Grandma that you hurt?

“Because she is smarter than me. Grandma already knows about my aches and pains. She is the one that is always telling me to not do stupid things and hurt myself. Grandma knows why I grunt and groan when I stand up or sit down. It’s usually because I did something when she told me to not do it.”

“Is that why you make funny noises when you get out of your chair?”

“That’s at least one of the reasons.”

Before the youngster could continue his probe into his grandfather’s health and welfare, the two were met by a traveler, strolling towards them along the same walking path. “Hello,” he called out as he passed by. “How’s it going?”

“As good as it can be,” replied the grandson, before his grandfather could even react. “My grandpa is great because he makes funny noises when he stands up.”


Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. His optimistic “glass full to overflowing” view of life shapes his writing. His essays stem from experiences, compilations and recollections from friends and family. Wilson touts himself as “a dubiously licensed teller of tall tales, sworn to uphold the precept of ‘It’s my story; that’s the way I’m telling it.’” He can be reached at


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