Last Updated: December 21, 2017, 3:58 pm

Lost Arts: What two white-haired ladies taught me


Millennials may be surprised what can be learned when time is spent in conversation with those who are of an older generation.

People should be looking more to the past as they seek answers for what may lay ahead. There appears to be some unaccounted trust that resides in relying on the lessons that come from the past. So, why is it that we neglect to learn from those who come before us but are still living? 

I am a member of a lucky group who happens to have all four of my grandparents still alive. Each one is a figurative piggy bank that is full of information and knowledge waiting to be touched or explored by those seeking life lessons and knowledge.

My grandma, Shirlene Henderson, was born and raised in Centerville and came from a long ancestry of Mormon pioneers. 

My mormor (Norwegian for grandma), Brit Yenchik, was born and raised in Trondheim, Norway. Most of her childhood consisted of life among the German invasion of Norway during World War II. 

As I picked their brains about their upbringings, I was amazed at what I learned from each in the interviews I had with them. I wanted to share, from their perspective, a valuable idea or skill they think millennials struggle with. 


The street my grandma grew up on housed a German concentration camp full of prisoners of war. She described how each day, as she walked to school, prisoners would often reach their hands under the fence begging for food or gloves because of the freezing temperatures.

My grandma told me the only thing she felt she could do was to give them her lunch. Often times this was done secretively because of the constant patrol by the Germans. 

Helping the POW’s was a powerful lesson my grandma learned at a young age. There are people in worse positions than we are in life and if we can help them out, we should. Think of what a smile could do for someone who is having a hard day or a simple hug to calm any fears.

This lesson has taught me to be more mindful of others and the hardships they may be experiencing. Often times, we judge a book by its cover. If the outside looks OK, then we presume the inside is OK too. Well, that is not always the case and I have sought for ways to help those who are in need. 

One of the best things I have tried to do better is give a listening ear to those that need it. It costs me no money and I am servicing those who are struggling, just like how my mormor serviced those POW’s. 

Millennials get too wrapped up in their worries and how life is so bad for them. This, in my opinion, limits their ability to see other’s needs and go outside themselves. Often the biggest way we can serve others is through the smallest of actions. 

Grandma Henderson 

If there was one lesson that my Grandma Henderson wanted millennials to know, it would be the idea of being respectful to everyone

She recalls as a little girl all the times she found herself watching her dad tip his hat to each individual he passed. She said he felt it was important to be happy and kind to everyone. 

She even remembers how her dad went above and beyond each time an individual stopped by to fill up their car with gas at his service station. She said he would pop the hood and check liquid levels, clean the windows, and even make the kids laugh as he squirted them with the water bottle. 

My grandma said her dad acted this way because of his tough childhood. This, in her eyes, was the driving force for him to show a certain love and respect for each individual that crossed his path. This is a lesson that my grandma has tried to live her life by, especially with her 10 children and their spouses.

We too should be this respectful toward others. By acknowledging the humanity in a person, it helped my grandma measure individuals against themselves, allowing for love to exist. We too should find our own mannerisms, like tipping a hat, which shows the respect we have for others.

When was the last time you made someone feel of value? Did your actions demonstrate you acknowledging their humanity? Everyone deserves respect and should be entitled to receiving it. No one person is better than another, so show respect to your classmate, the gas-station clerk, or the cashier at your preferred grocery store. 

I think the idea of respect has always been a lesson my Grandma Henderson has tried to instill in me. Growing up, she demonstrated through her actions and words the respect she had for each person she interacted with. Because she has always be so kind and respectful to me, I have tried to implement that in my life. 

Find someone, like my grandmas, who you can sit down with and learn from. I promise it is rewarding and will bless your lives.