Spill The Beans


The combination of the cold and the wind sends chills to my very bones. He only lives a mile from our house and on a clear day, I can walk it in just fifteen minutes. But today, I left a little early because I knew I would have to watch my step. The snow was already starting to cover the sidewalks so I was deliberate in placing my foot down and ensuring I was not about to step on a hidden patch of ice.

When I looked out the window this morning, I just wanted to crawl back into bed but I had made a commitment. My grandmother had passed away a couple of months earlier and my dad hired a caregiver to live with my grandfather during the week. However, the caregiver wanted each Saturday and part of Sunday off. I volunteered to give up my weekends and sit with my grandfather so he could stay in his home.

My parents keep telling people how proud they are that I was willing to make this ‘sacrifice.’ Little did they know that I actually enjoy my time with Grandpa. His body is frail – but his mind is sharp as a tack. We talk for hours about his life as a young boy my age – of his time in the Army during WWII – starting his own small hardware store and watching it grow until he was able to sell out to a large change store and retire with Grandma. The places to which they traveled were documented in photo albums and he could remember the story behind each picture.

But most importantly, he listens when I talk – he understands the struggles of trying to fit in at school – he understands that I still am unsure of my future plans – he knows what it is like to feel alone in a room full of people – he even helps me with my homework and girl problems without judging me. So, this is not a ‘sacrifice’ – this is where I need to be each weekend.

Finally, I see his house. I climb the steps to the front door and ring the doorbell. Mrs. Smith, the caregiver, opens the door, “My goodness. You must have left early in the terrible weather to be here this early. Thank you for being so considerate.” With that, she put on her coat and boots, grabbed her purse and keys, and started out the front door.

“Be careful. The roads are starting to get covered with snow,” I said as she bid her goodbyes to Grandpa.

“Hey, Grandpa! Have you eaten breakfast?” I inquired as I removed my winter coat and hung it on one of the hooks by the front door. He nodded his head and smiled. I stood for a minute and just let the warmth of his toothless expression wash over me. I was so happy just to be with him.

“Okay,” I said as I sat down in the chair that I knew was occupied by my Grandma for so many years, “you promised to tell me how Grandma and you met. So, spill the beans. I’m waiting.”

“Well, it was just before the start of the big war….”


Len Bernat
Len Bernat
LEN is a leader groomed by 20 years of molding and shaping by some of the finest leaders in the United States Marine Corps. Their guidance helped Len realize his full potential as he moved from an enlisted Marine to becoming an Officer of Marines. Len became known for being the leader who could turn any lackluster organization into a strong, functional unit. Upon his retirement, Len worked in several positions before finally starting a second career in governmental procurement. His experience and leadership skills enabled him to be recognized as the 2011 Governmental Procurement Officer of the Year for the Governmental Procurement Association of Georgia and opened doors for him to teach at many of the association’s conferences. Len was also called to the ministry and was ordained at Ashford Memorial Methodist Church in November of 1999. Today, Len is the Pastor of Maxeys Christian Church in Maxeys, Georgia. Len has been married to his wife, Hazel, for 36 years and they have three daughters, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Grab your copy of Len's new Book – Leadership Matters | Advice From A Career USMC Officer. Using his life experiences as examples, Len takes the eleven principles of leadership and the fourteen traits every leader should possess—which he learned during twenty years in the Marine Corps—and teaches the reader how he was molded and shaped by some of the best leaders the Corps had to offer.

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