I am sitting here this morning, putting a mirror shine on a pair of my shoes and I keep thinking about my Grandfather.

My grandfather taught me to shine shoes. He always dressed very well. He had little of anything growing up, and as an adult was always dressed well. Especially by some rural farming community standards.

He taught me that a man should always carry a pocket knife, a handkerchief, and a sewing kit. I still carry these with me, every day.

Value That Runs Deep

I have been thinking about the other things that he taught me. He showed me the honor and self-respect that comes with a hard day’s work. He taught me to be self-sufficient. Through him, I learned the value of knowing how to do everything for myself. There is nothing wrong with getting your shoes shined by someone else, but you should be able to do it yourself as well. Being able to do for yourself grants you freedom, a freedom that few people have. His quiet actions made me understand these valuable lessons.

Sitting here throwing some shoe cream and polish on my shoes, I was pondering all of this. I thought about how lucky and blessed I am. These are quite literally the best shoe conditioners, cremes, and waxes on earth. My shoes are nicer than anything that he could have ever afforded. I know that he would be so happy with me, sitting here taking the time to care for the things that I own. It would really make him proud. And that makes me smile; it also makes me a little sad.

True Quality

I really like nice shoes. Price is NOT an indication of quality when it comes to shoes. Materials and construction are. My better half thinks that it is weird that I like formal shoes so much, but the truth is, I like them because quality shoes remind me of my Grandfather, and even more so of everything that he taught me.

I don’t own any nice shoes that are considered designer, or that even have a label on them. Quality shoemakers don’t do that. But every pair of nice shoes that I own carry a label in my mind.

Brands That Matter

My shoes are imprinted with labels that remind me to “Never think that you are better than anyone on this earth,” or “Always know how to do things for yourself,” and “Never be afraid of a little physical labor.” So, I guess the label in my head carries my “Daniel Hewett,” my grandfather’s “brand” created through strength and hard-earned values because, in so many ways, he helped to craft me, created my personal brand and the man that I always try to be.

GUEST AUTHOR Philip White.