Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 51

By | January 29, 2024

[January 29, 2024]  Sitting beside my Mom, I remember watching the epic movie “The Ten Commandments,” starring Charleston Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as Pharaoh Ramesses II.  It was a moment in time that helped me see my Mom as a woman of good character and that she made sure her kids understood right from wrong.  Indeed, that was no easy task with little ones like me as a disagreeable, strong-willed youngster.

Remembering the movie, having sat with my Mom at home watching for nearly four hours with only one intermission, I saw how her values were ingrained into us kids.  I was slow to realize that Mom valued the love of God, kindness, generosity, and pinching pennies, which was a huge advantage for us kids.

Mom’s ability to save money was legendary, and the family was in awe of how she could seemingly make dinner for five out of practically nothing.  It was like we only ever had leftovers; an original meal was an allusive fantasy.  Nothing was ever wasted.  She would save the grease from cooking, scrape baking pans with a special tool to get every drop, and cut the bottom out of sugar and flower bags to get every ounce out.  Any food item “almost going bad” was made into soup, along with the bones with marrow inside.  Just scrape off the mold; it was just “on the surface” anyway.  Leftover meats that started to smell funky were a staple of our diet after cooking the flavor out.  Hmmmm, good!

I believe her culinary knowledge created one of the best human immune systems in her kids that would marvel the medical world.  None of us ever missed a day of school, except for the standard communicable diseases we all got, and amazingly, we all had mild cases, except for measles.  Upon returning to class, my teachers gave me the teacher’s skeptical eye, saying, “I don’t believe you’re not sick,” because how could I be back so quickly?  There was no getting a doctor’s note clearing you in those days, just a hand on the forehead to check for fever and a spot check for bumps in the wrong places.

Of course, we only got vitamin C from the Kool-Aid drink; strawberry was my favorite, with half the recommended sugar to save costs and extra water to make it go further.  I was an adult before I had a proper Kool-Aid drink made to the package directions.  And those thin Jiffy Peanut Butter and Miracle Whip sandwiches on stale white bread that Mom always made me for lunch were great.  Later, I moved up to real mayo and crunchy PB.  Such delicacies were daily.  I still eat Mayo-PB sandwiches.

When I was seven and in First Grade, Mom gave me a half dollar to go into town and buy five Mr. Goodbar chocolates.  Candy was a special and rare treat for the family and her favorite.  I came home with six candy bars.  I thought I’d hit the jackpot and hoped to get the extra candy, but “No, it was a mistake.”  And it would be wrong to keep what I didn’t pay for.  So, I’m back to the store to return that extra chocolate bar.  Even at that young age, Mom had taught us a crucial life lesson I can never forget.  Don’t steal.  The store owner would not have missed it, but that was not the point.  The chocolate did not belong to me.  Period.  Even if the missing candy bar was never discovered, Mom said, “God would know.”

Mom was a saint.  She was disgusted by lying, so don’t ever lie to Mom.  She had a remarkable mother lie detector that could ferret out even the most minor lie.  But she was not above a little white lie to prevent hurt feelings.  Most babies are beautiful, but some just aren’t.  Mom would tell the mother that their baby was beautiful, nonetheless, “Oh, what a cute baby.”  And if that dress on the neighbor girl was ugly, Mom would say it was just right for her.  “It’s a gorgeous dress, little lady.”

Born in 1929, Mom didn’t have a racist bone in her body.  This was the Deep South in the 1950s, and segregation, despite being technically illegal, was alive and well.  Whenever Dad brought home a big mess of fish, she insisted we take extra to the poor blacks on the other side of town.  Mom understood being poor and tried to do something to help them, even if it was a small gesture.  She saw that their houses had no doors or windows, so she would use her sewing machine to make curtains for those folks we personally knew.  And she refused to use the segregated bathrooms around town and told the owners her mind.  Please don’t get on her bad side.

It wasn’t unusual for me to get into trouble at school or when doing odd jobs; sometimes, I just forgot to do what I promised.  She was always there with a kind word, a big hug, and a kiss on the top of my head.  Mom would make things right, often with just a phone call and her gracious words.  Indeed, she taught me to pursue responsibility and never be lazy.  God was watching, and being a habitual slacker was a broad, easy path to Hell.  This was a harsh lesson, along with telling the truth.  But all of us kids survived and turned out okay.


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

37 thoughts on “Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 51

  1. Kenny Foster

    I’m a guy and I’m really into these letters too. Gen. Satterfield is showing us his dry humor also and that is what is attracting me to the letters to his granddaughter.

    1. Danny Burkholder

      … and to those who believe in a moral republic that is America.

  2. Navy Vet

    I like to read this blog on occasion but I have to say that I’m really on board with this series, Gen. S’s longest-running series on a topic that I like. He has given me some ideas to write letters to my grandkids too and, and this is important, I suggested this to my kids (who are adults now) to write letters to their future grandkids. But note that it doesn’t have to be us old folk writing letters, it can be young couples writing letters to their future children too. Let that sink in a minute. Wouldn’t you want to read what your parents were thinking when they were young? I sure would.

    1. Army Vet

      Yah, great points Navy Vet. Hang in there. Read and write more. That is what Gen. Satterfield recommends. 😎

    2. Eddie Gilliam

      Navy vet
      Hand on in there . My brother Wayne at age 62 is now a grandfather. He son Wayne II and Justina had a boy name Karter a few weeks ago.

    1. Maureen S. Sullivan

      Good to hear from you again Jerome. I hope all is well with your family. We are all enjoying his letters. ❤

  3. Army Captain

    Today, Gen. Satterfield writes about his “Mom.” And what a wonderful loving and gracious letter to his granddaughter it is. This is the kind of articles that make me want to come back here and read all his articles. Some are hard to understand (my lack of educ is surely the reason), but I hope this website continues. Hoorah.

  4. Lana Morrison

    Gen. Satterfield, while I’m NEW here, I did go back and read your past letters to your granddaughter. They are very enlightening. I recommend you put a tag on the end of each to give us less insightful folks the lessons you learned by each event. Thank you.

    1. Peigin

      Yes, welcome Lana Morrison. I know you will enjoy our forum. We bounce ideas around and give positive and useful feedback without acrimony. That is how Gen. Satterfield wants it, and we are all in agreement.

  5. Doug Smith

    Gen. Satterfield has done it once again, by giving us an entertaining and, more importantly, a look inside what he used to be like and in this case his “mama” who has tremendous values like a belief in God and family. This is what makes her and now Gen. Satterfield people who anyone would want to be in their circle.

    1. mainer

      … and in addition, as an adult, Gen. Satterfield also has come into contact with, in his words, “some of the greatest men and women that America has ever produced.” It’s more than luck. It’s an effort requiring smarts, luck, and hard work. There is no substitute for it.

      1. The Toad

        THis helps make this letter, No 51, one of his best. Gen. Satterfield is all over these letters and good for him. I only hope that his granddaughter one day reads them. But, of course, the letters are also for all his grandkids and why not? These will give them an insight into their grandfather and why he was so successful in his life. That is not easy and, if they are sufficiently humble enough to take his recommendations to heart and apply lessons learned from his experiences, they will grow to be wonderful people and pursuing noble goals.

  6. Max Foster

    WOW ………..
    “Born in 1929, Mom didn’t have a racist bone in her body. This was the Deep South in the 1950s, and segregation, despite being technically illegal, was alive and well. Whenever Dad brought home a big mess of fish, she insisted we take extra to the poor blacks on the other side of town. Mom understood being poor and tried to do something to help them, even if it was a small gesture. She saw that their houses had no doors or windows, so she would use her sewing machine to make curtains for those folks we personally knew. And she refused to use the segregated bathrooms around town and told the owners her mind. Please don’t get on her bad side.” — Gen. Doug Satterfield

    Best quote in the letter to his granddaughter.

    1. Nick Lighthouse

      I got to agree with you Max. This is IMHO the whole point of these letters.

    2. Eddie Gilliam

      Excellent observation on my friend Doug God fearing Mom. His mom taught him well about not seeing color but seeing people in need. People raised in the south treated black badly. Fearing people motivated by hatred was the norm. Hater are taught to be this.I heard a wise man say do not judge a book by it’s cover. Reading the book will give you a better understanding of what it contains. What Gen Douglas mom taught the children was life lessons in accounting to God ten commandments. Love your neighbors as thyself. I have several older men not of my color call me their son. Treat me like a son. Fear is False Evidence Appears Real. I would have loved to have met Gen Douglas mom.
      She reminds me of my grandmother who cared for her neighbors and children. When she cooked she shared a meal with the children when they visited my cuz.
      The Bible is based on relationships with God and relationships with each other.

      1. Gil Johnson

        Eddie, welcome back. I agree that Gen. Satterfield’s mom can remind us of wonderful, God-fearing moms.

  7. Mike Baker

    There will be many who don’t like the fact that Gen. Satterfield is looking into the far future by writing these letters to “my granddaughter.” But I think this is one of the lessons he is trying to teach us. Put down a marker and orient yourself to the right path in the future. And don’t be fooled by the easy and evil path that many take and fail. Great job, Gen. Satterfield. Thanks again for your help and guidance.

    1. Bryan Z. Lee

      Got that right Mike, spot on comment. I couldn’t have said it better. Too many folks will think these letters are just for fun, but that is far from the truth. 😎

      1. USA Patriot II

        Thanks Bryan, well said.

  8. JT Patterson

    Another great letter Gen. Satterfield. Thanks. This is his longest running series yet, by far.

  9. Cow Blue

    Gen. Satterfield, you’ve done it again and given us a wonderful letter to read and to contemplate while we sit down and put our brain in gear. These letters are much more than entertainment, but also a learning tool that gives us – those willing to listen and learn – a window into the inner workings of someone who was successful and happy in life. I know that this is so. How? Because I read your book “55 Rules for a Good Life” and it is all laid out there. For those new to this forum, please get a copy of this book and read it, read it more than once. it is full of great info.

    1. Laughing Monkey

      Cow Blue, I’ve got to agree with you also that Gen. Satterfield’s book is outstanding and any body can read it and learn. Get your copy today at Amazon.

  10. lydia truman

    “Oh, what a cute baby,” and I’ll now never be the same if someone said that to my baby. Just kidding.

    1. Julia

      Yep, now I’m beginning to wait for these letters. Each one is new insight into what makes up a good person and one who succeeded in life as a General in the US Army. thank you Gen. Satterfield for continuing your series. I had thought you might have stopped it. Love it every time. Now we are at No. 51.

      1. HAL

        We all think the same thing. And each letter to his granddaughter makes me smile each time I read one.


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