Today marks the tenth anniversary of my Grandpa Grant’s passing. I was working that summer at a trucking business where my mom worked part-time. My dad worked close by, and, during the final few days, I’d casually drive by his work before I went home. If his car was still there, I knew my grandpa was still in hospice and nothing had happened. My dad’s car (now my car) wasn’t there on Wednesday, June 23, 2004 when I drove by after work.
A death like that, from lung cancer, isn’t easy. It is a difficult way to go and time slows and you learn how long the human body continues to live after the will to live has gone. The beeps and whooshing sounds of machines become your background music. You say goodbye. You say goodbye again. You keep saying goodbye until it comes into existence.
My grandpa was an amazing man, the very definition of strong and silent. After my grandma died in 2002, we had about two years of just him. We heard his voice for the first time, it seemed, since my grandma owned all the words and stories when they were together. I loved him very much and miss him a lot.
A few months later, my college roommate, Nicole, gave me a torn off page from a word-a-day calendar. It was dated June 23, 2004, the very day my grandpa died. It remains one of the greatest coincidences of my life. How random. A friend’s calendar. An impossibly sunny day in June. A word.
I think every other conversation I start with Kris begins with “I was listening to this podcast and…” I’m sure that doesn’t get old. However, since I started listening to podcasts, I feel smarter. I look at them as free continuing education. Last October, I began listening to them in the mornings and when I was cleaning around the house or sometimes even during a run. I couldn’t believe how much they’ve enriched my life. I was starved for stories and lessons and ideas, and I didn’t even know it. Below are some of my favorites.
This American Life
Classic. I’ve been listening off and on to TAL for the past six years. There’s always something in every episode that makes me think. Some favorites: Dan Savage in the Return to the Scene of the Crime episode, Switched at Birth, and NUMMI. TAL has free archives to stream.
This American Life
Death, Sex + Money
Super interesting episodes with a wide variety of interviews. Bill Withers. Jane Fonda. Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires. They talk about (you guessed it) death and sex and money. I wish this one would update more often, but, alas, it’s every other Wednesday.
Freakonomics is such a smart podcast. My recent favorite is Failure is Your Friend, which in part discusses one man who refused to sign off on the launch approval for the Challenger because he feared the O rings would be problematic given the cold weather. If you like the podcast, the movie and the books are great, too.
Okay, I don’t have any benjamins to stack, but I’d like to! I enjoy the financial aspect of this podcast, but they also mix it up with interviews and trivia and practical tips. They also review movies, which prompted me to drag Kris to see the Lego movies (everything is AWESOME…).
Those are just a few. If you’d have told me a few years ago that I wouldn’t be listening to music every waking second I had earbuds in, I’d have told you you’re crazy. But now I gladly trade a few hours of music for a few hours of interesting stories that help me learn more about the world around me.