Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 72

[May 13, 2024]  “We love having you at our house, Little Big Man.”  We called him Granddaddy; he was Bigmama’s husband.  He was a short but strong man, forgiving of my misbehavior, forthrightly religious, a good storyteller, skilled with his hands, able to fall asleep in his office chair, and intense but compassionate.  He was a man who knew more than most men but had little formal education.  He was not the man you would think was a crusader for his family, and he liked me better than most for some unknown reason.

Granddaddy Boyd Smith called me “Little Big Man.”  I believe this was a term of endearment, given that I was maybe ten or eleven years old at the time and certainly not a big kid nor a man – but I wanted to be.  I was maybe 60 pounds, dripping wet, skinny, and thin-boned.  Granddaddy was stocky, muscular, and balding.  He was born in 1904 from a different stock and was highly respected and brutally truthful.  “Listen up, Little Big Man,” he said in a hushed tone, “Go fetch my flyswatter.  Your cousin over there earned himself an ass swattin’.”

A few years ago, I went back to the home where Bigmama and Granddaddy raised four children, my Mom being the youngest, and where us grandkids had a wonderful time just being kids.  We visited my grandparents often from the early 1950s, well before I could remember and until I joined the Army.  I didn’t know it then, but now, looking back, Granddaddy saw something in me.  Maybe I was his favorite, I dunno.  Now, there were lots and lots of cousins around my age running around, so he could have had the pick of the litter, but instead, he got skinny little me.  “How are you today, Little Big Man?”

Bonita, Louisiana, was our home away from home.  It wasn’t the 13 bedrooms, or the half city block of their property, or the giant swing set, and it was my Granddaddy and Bigmama themselves who made this place so special.  Their personalities made it home.  And everybody in town knew them well; by extension, they knew us and treated us with great kindness.  “Put it on Granddaddy’s tab,” I would say at the store.  So I wouldn’t have to pay for anything. But only with his permission would I dare do so.  Never have I done this again.  Only in Bonita.

Wherever my grandparents were, it was home.  Camping on the lake, traveling to Baton Rouge, the capital, and fishing off their motor boat was home unlike anywhere else.  I felt content around Granddaddy and was secure, knowing he could beat up anyone, especially punks who caused problems.  And Bonita had seen its problems: murders, armed robbery, the KKK, and snake oil salesmen.  You wouldn’t know it now.  Things have changed.  Now, they are “modern.”  Even Bigmama’s large, old house is gone, dismantled and removed.

“Little big man, come here and sit next to me,” Granddaddy would say.  “Look here at these arm muscles, you want to arm wrestle?”  I always took him up on the offer.  I’m sure he let me win.  After I “won,” he effortlessly lifted me up and off the ground with just one arm.  I was amazed.  I thought he was the strongest man in the world.

One day, he took me out into the yard and told me the story of his father, William T. Smith, who was born in 1878.  Granddaddy loved his father dearly, and his father was still alive in the early 1960s.  And my family was at his funeral in 1963.  I was told that William T. Smith served as a member of the 38th Infantry, U.S. Volunteers, Company B during the Philippine-American War, 1899 to 1902.  I was given Private Smith’s service record, a small booklet listing how the war progressed, where he fought against insurgents, and the ships that carried the troops.  The booklet is a fascinating read of the history of one of our direct relatives.  I remember most how Granddaddy was so proud of his father.

The exciting story is about William T., my great-grandfather.  He was married and had seven children.  When his wife died, he advertised for a new wife, went to meet her at the train station and on the way home, he told her that he had seven children: one was my grandfather, and another one was an infant.  She was pretty mad about that deception.  They never had children, and when she passed away, he married a third woman and had two additional girls, only slightly older than me.  We kids always thought Nell and Sue were cousins, but they were actually great aunts.

On any day, there were a dozen or more young kids, all granddaddy’s grandchildren, still young enough to be seen running about screaming their heads off, having the time of their lives, playing on the swing set or balancing on the property iron fence, and knowing that there was always our grandparents we could run to for anything.  But one of my cousins was a little delinquent and deserving of an ass swattin’.  As I recall, he never got that flyswatter despite that cousin deserving it.

When Granddaddy passed away, I was greatly saddened.  The best years of my life were spent with him, learning about how to be a good man, to be a proper Christian, learning how to fix cars, and to care for my family.  He also stood up for me when I needed him most.  Despite my defects, I couldn’t have had a better Granddaddy, and of course, with the most wonderful Bigmama, they made a loving couple and a “crusader” for his family.

If I were to imagine Heaven for me, it would be with Granddaddy and Bigmama, drinking coffee and eating the best breakfast of eggs, biscuits, and bacon, watching them talk and smile, and just being who they were.  I’m still proud to be called “Little Big Man.”


NOTE: See all my letters here: https://www.theleadermaker.com/granddaughter-letters/


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.

27 thoughts on “Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 72

    1. Colleen Ramirez

      This is why I read his blog every single day.

  1. Goalie for Cal State

    Just WOW, another great letter to Gen. S’s granddaughter. We should be reading these letters carefully for what lessons we can gain from them. Well done! Gen. S. please please please more letters.

  2. Max Foster

    More and more when I read these letters, I’m starting to see several patterns. One is that the life of Gen. Satterfield was not easy but that his family was always there to help him along and save him, often from himself, and that meant his mom, dad, grandparents, and cousins. Second, Gen. Satterfield was not one of those kids who sat around thing of himself as a victim but as someone who could actually accomplish something and he went about it with the mindset that he could “get er done.” Third, that he was a good Christian boy who knew his moral limits and did his best to adhere to his faith. These are the parameters good men and women exist within. We are not hedonists doing whatever we want but are constrained by society properly and as it should be.

    1. Lana Morrison

      Great observations Max and now that we are up to 72 of these letters to his granddaughter, it should be us looking for those patterns and exposing them for all of us to read and think about.

  3. The Golly Woman from EHT

    Great messages here from this letter. It shows that having a great granddaddy can make a huge difference in a child’s life. Never give up on your kids or your parents/grandparents. Too many from Gen. Z are doing that and everybody loses.

  4. Melissa Jackson

    Gen. S., you’ve done it again with this letter and you seems to be getting better with each letter. I also like the family stories, nothing about great men or women, but the average guy or gal making their families better.

  5. Eye Cat

    BEAUTIFUL letter to your Granddaughter and I hope, for our sakes, that she reads and understands them. Maybe Gen. Satterfield will get a chance himself to read them to her.

  6. Willie Strumburger

    Family stories are precious to our kids as it should be. “One day, he took me out into the yard and told me the story of his father, William T. Smith, who was born in 1878. Granddaddy loved his father dearly, and his father was still alive in the early 1960s. And my family was at his funeral in 1963. I was told that William T. Smith served as a member of the 38th Infantry, U.S. Volunteers, Company B during the Philippine-American War, 1899 to 1902. I was given Private Smith’s service record, a small booklet listing how the war progressed, where he fought against insurgents, and the ships that carried the troops. The booklet is a fascinating read of the history of one of our direct relatives. I remember most how Granddaddy was so proud of his father.” – Gen. Doug Satterfield, and at his best.

    1. mainer

      Yeah, the style of writing here would make his English teacher cringe but it makes for a great story.

      1. DaveV

        Ha Ha Ha Ha., love it. Who else could write like this but the author who is a General. I hope that those new to his blog realize that there is more to being a successful career man than just being promoted because you are there and have seniority. Great job, sir!

  7. Lady Hawk

    Lovely letters, Gen. Satterfield, you made my day. Oh, and I got your “55 Rules for a Good Life” and have now read it at least 3 times. Now on another read. I keep getting more and more out of it.

  8. Kenny Foster

    Sir, well done! It is hard to believe that we are already at one year of these letters, seems like they only began a few weeks ago and we are already on #72. This one about “little big man” gets me to thinking about my grandpa back in the 1990s and how he used to teach me about so many things. We are fortunate to have them. Sadly, my grandpa passed away last year.

  9. Doug Smith

    One of the great pleasures I’ve had lately is reading this series on letters to Gen S.’s granddaughter. It would not matter whether the letters were to his granddaughter or son or daughter or great-grandson, it matters not, because these letters tell a story that “need telling.” I hope that they continue so that we can learn more about Gen. S. and how to be successful.

    1. The Toad

      I agree that it is a good idea to continue the series and for many reasons as stated by others. What I like best is the entertainment value.

      1. H. M. Longstreet

        Entertainment value is okay. That is always first, message is second.

  10. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    Very wonderful and insightful. Thank you!

  11. Yusaf from Texas

    Great letter, again. Gen. Satterfield never disappoints.

  12. Bryan Z. Lee

    Yes, a great story today, Gen. Satterfield. Also don’t forget to get a copy of Gen. Satterfield’s book “55 Rules for a Good Life.” Especially RULE 22: Be loyal to your family, staring on page 69 in the paperback version. Get a copy now. Get 10 copies now and give them away to young adults. Those you give the book to will come back and tell you how much it made a difference in their lives.

  13. ashley

    Great story of Mother’s Day in 1961, yesterday …. Thanks. 👩‍👧‍👧👩🤪🤭💖

    1. HAL

      Ashley, regardless where they are, it is one day that we stop doing what we normally do and think about our mothers. Whether they are alive or, heaven forbid, they have passed, we still need to remember them and the good times we had. This is what Mothers Day is about. Now, there will be the naysayers who criticize me and others for recognizing women who are mothers because they say trans women can also be mothers. Let me just say NOPE, that is a lie. And if you want to live a lie, then you are going to have a rough and unhappy life.

      1. Fred Weber

        True enough HAL, that is why we get such ideas here and with Gen. Satterfield.

  14. docwatson

    First, congratulations to Gen. Satterfield for these letters. Shortly, it will be the one-year anniversary when he started writing them. The first being, Letters to my Granddaughter, No. 1 (being Rich) on May 20, 2023. “If there is one thing I would want from my grandparents today, it would be letters they wrote to me, telling me about their lives, what they believed in, what made them good men and women, and how they saw the world. Those letters would be more valuable than any token, money, or property. So, I decided to write my grandchildren letters for that reason.” EXACTLY.

  15. corralesdon

    Loving each and every letter you write to your granddaughter, Gen. Satterfield. Please don’t stop writing them, as each gives us another piece to the puzzle that was a little boy called Doug Satterfield. ❤❤❤❤

    1. Wendy Holmes

      Right, corralesdon, you are spot on with that comment. One day, Gen. Satterfield will stop writing these letters. At that point, I sure hope that he puts them into some book form because I would buy it, if nothing else to read it myself while relaxing on the back deck of my home, looking out over my range where my kids and grandkids live. That is what family and God is all about. Gen. S., you da man.

  16. ZB

    Wow, so quickly, Number 72 Letters to My Granddaughter (Little Big Man). Sir, great story.


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