My Role Models In Following My Joy

Grandma & Grandpa_Wedding

Rollie & Doris Larson

Last night our small family got together and celebrated my sweet grandpa’s 88th birthday at a hotel restaurant. Bill and I were the first guests to arrive, and I jumped at the chance to pick the seat right next to the guest of honor. It felt special to share the space with this elder gentleman who I love so much.

My grandma and grandpa, Doris and Rollie, have been lifelong role models for me, as well as my best friends. During a somewhat difficult childhood, those two were my “rocks.” My safe haven. My solid foundation. I grew up watching them and learning.

And after 40 years, I’m still watching this couple who has quietly been following their joy all of their lives. Through the years, they taught me how to play tennis and golf; how to be a champion at Scrabble; to love others with compassion, listen with all your heart, and be grateful for everything…and I mean, everything.

I’m so proud to be their granddaughter! They’ve traveled the globe, leading marriage workshops around the world and helping couples communicate effectively and live joyfully. The world is certainly a more loving and peaceful place because of them! In the 70’s they wrote a very successful marriage workbook together, and they recently got the idea to have it re-worked with updates and get it re-published. To our delight, they chose to pass the torch on to Bill and me to coordinate the project, and we enthusiastically and humbly accepted the honor!

Certainly feeling their age in their 80’s, this gem of a couple is continually following their joy all along. In the winter, they spend most evenings in what they call “a night at the fire,” keeping warm with intimate conversations and golden silence next to their toasty fireplace. In the summer months, they loaf on their deck overlooking the pond in their backyard, enjoying each other and marveling at nature. They play ping pong every day in their basement to keep their skills sharp, and they stopped counting their number of consecutive volleys when they hit 1,270 last year!

Sweetest of all is the little corner of their bedroom where they have a small round table and two chairs set-up. This furniture is from an old restaurant that closed its doors many years ago. The table and chairs are next to the window overlooking the pond, and this is where they have their coffee together every morning. They call this quaint little section of their bedroom “Loving Cup Café.”

After we all finished up the birthday dinner celebration, Grandma and Grandpa went up to their hotel room where they spent the night. And Bill and I walked to our car through the parking lot and passed by the big maroon car parked in the handicapped spot close to the front door. The tell-tale bumper sticker made me smile because I knew without a doubt which hotel guest this vehicle belonged to. The words read: “Listen to someone today.”

Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for teaching me the power of following my joy. Because all along you have modeled for me that life is meant to be lived, and revered, and celebrated. I love you.


Author’s note: For a great follow-up story on these two, be sure to see The Gem of Real Conversation.

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24 Responses to “My Role Models In Following My Joy”

  • Beautifully expressed, Michelle, and every word and mood rings true to my experience. Rollie has been my mentor, guide,colleague & buddy for 35+ years. He is as wholehearted and authentic as they come. I have written stories about him in several of my books, mostly, to remind me to wake-up and "listen to someone today!"
    Last month, I met a 100-year old hunter-gatherer in Tanzanaia, East Africa. His name is Gud and he was generous, warm, and very wise. He reminded me very much of Rollie. Roland ("Line") Larson's deep legacy lives in my bones and in the bones of so many, like you Michelle.In my way of saying it, Rollie has truly "claimed his place at the fire."
    –Richard Leider,
    Author of Claiming Your Place at the Fire:Living the Second half of Your Life On Purpose

  • Marlene says:

    What a beautiful story Michelle. Through your grandparent’s prayers and love you have grown to be a real blessing to them and everyone who knows you. I am sure they are very proud of you. What an amazing privilege it is for you and Bill to rewrite their publication on marriage. You are a terrific writer and God bless you as you go about the challenge of that project. Love, Marlene

  • Well, you had me at hello. That first picture took my breath away -and the light in their eyes in the second is just as stirring. And then your writing got me all choked up. They are such wonderful role models for us all!

    I have been blessed to know your grandpa for about as long as I’ve been without mine – close to 20 years – and he always sweeps me off my feet with his kindness and sense of humor. He reminds me of my Baba in those ways and it warms my heart to see how you always treasure every moment you have with him and your grandma. Thank you for sharing it with us, Michelle! I’m now off to get my kleenex…

  • Sharon says:

    ohh Michelle, I am crying…tears of happiness and love and “preciousness”………I love you and I sooo love my Unc Liney and Aunt Dor that this touchs my heart so deeply. God Bless you, you special one….thank you for opening up your heart to the world and to yourself. I say, a big AMEN, I am sooo honored to have Uncle Liney and Aunt Dor in my life….I agree with Mr. Leider…Unc Liney leaves a deep legacy in my bones and heart and one cannot help but simply smile and get chills when you think of him…… God Bless you, Love, Sharon :))) xoxo

  • Bill says:

    Michelle and I met 17 years ago, and it wasn’t long after we met that I had the privilege to meet Doris and Rollie. I didn’t see it at the time, but my life would never be the same, after having them as an influence. I can’t help but believe that if everyone had such amazing role models in their life, the world would be a much different place!

  • Niki says:

    (tears rolling)…That was beautiful. What a blessing to have people like this is your life. Grandparents offer such a unique gift, and it looks like you hit the mother load. What a peaceful way to start my day. And I love “The Loving Cup Cafe”. Fabulous.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow! I am in tears–joyful, tender tears. Your grandparents are so authentic and real. It is no wonder you are who you are. Thank you for sharing

  • Artem Kuznetsov says:

    I absolutely loved your post about your grandparents. I think many people should look at their early beginnings and realize who our first mentors were… your post is making me think and journal about my early influences – thank you!

  • Ruth says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your mentors, Rol and Dor! I have admired their love and the way they live their lives for years. My father had taught me that love was not competitive. Your grandparents model that kind of agape love daily, as do you, Michelle!
    …. Ruth Rounds
    Friend, colleague and fellow jouneyor helping others live fully through work and play

  • Kim says:

    Nicely done, Michelle! I’m sure that you and Bill will serve your grandparents well when you update the marriage book. Congrats! Love, Kim

  • Wow…. how wonderful…

    Michelle, your Grandparents are so dear to me as well. Your description of them shines….

    I am smiling with my heart. And my lips.

    Thank you for sharing,


  • Joan says:


    I loved living with your grandparents, even for the few moments I got in your story of them. What an honor and privilege for you to carry some of their energy forward into our lives!

    Thanks for sharing :)


  • Janice Kern says:

    I had to read the whole thing twice to make sure I didn’t miss anything the first time around. You are so wise to have snagged up their influence so long ago.

  • Andrea P says:

    You are truly a product of your grandparents. Its obvious the amazing influence they have had in your life & wonderful that they get to experience your joy & success. Hopefully they realize the impact that they have made on you! Keep on spreading the joy!

  • Rochelle says:

    This is a beautiful tribute…to beautiful people! Thanks so much for sharing it with everyone. You can strongly feel your love for them in every paragraph. The photos are marvelous.

  • Megan says:

    I have been sitting here speechless for several minutes soaking in the beauty of your entry and thinking about those who have had a similar impact on me in my life.

    How unique, rare and wonderful their relationship is these days in our fast paced techno-world where love is often fleeting and commitment non-existent. I am so grateful you are taking the time to create your blog…it is and will touch so many in awe-inspiring ways.

    Peace and joy,

  • Jane says:

    Mom and dad are as you have shared so wonderfully Michelle! Their hearts have been gentle, gracious, wise and wide.
    We four kids growing up were each SO different. We knew that we had parents that truly listened even if they didn’t like what they heard.
    Their center anchor has been their trust in God. I can still feel them both arm in arm with me as we walked down the aisle on my wedding day to the song Joy To The World!!

  • Phil says:

    Michelle (and Bill, too!),

    I’ve known you guys for a long time now and it’s wonderful to see you continue to (1) LOVE life and live it flat-out, and (2) share it with us! Your post this morning brought back amazing memories of my own “grandpa.” I was the apple of his eye and he love teaching me about his garden, taking me to the hardward store, telling me tall tales. Thanks for the memories!


  • Michelle W. says:



  • Thank you, everyone, for honoring my lovely grandparents with me! It's a joy to share their love story with the world. :)

  • Char says:

    Such beauty in their story and lives! Such joy in reading how you feel about your grandparents! You and Bill will do an amazing job with the re-publishing of their work.

  • Janie says:

    Doris and Rollie’s spirit and words to live by are carried on in you. What a wonderful tribute to them. The key is that you took the time to notice, to listen and watch. There is such power when we slow down. Thanks for bringing it to my attention today. Your light shines brightly because you see the beauty all around and spread it quietly just like your grandparents. Good work!

  • Julie Weber says:

    Michelle – Just being introduced to you a couple of weeks ago I’m reading some of your blogs and I just had to comment on this one about your Grandparents; I too have had a special relationship with my Grandparents(now in their 90’s)and they too were ideal role models for me as well. I always tell people how amazing they are and how they are a true example of love – even to this day! Things are getting harder for them as Grandma is dealing with Alzheimer’s but Grandpa still insists on being her caretaker. I could relate to all of this story! Thanks Michelle!

  • I love to hear stories like this. I wonder sometimes how two people can sustain such a beautiful relationship for so long. It’s very inspiring and more people should be witness to what true love can bring to your life. These stories reinforce the fact that dreams can come true and true love can be found when you find the right person. Thanks for sharing!

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Michelle Stimpson: Editor/Writer

Michelle Stimpson Hi and thanks for visiting - so glad you're here! This blog is especially for cool people who want to experience joy and live a life of purpose. Welcome!

Here you'll find great stories that will inspire you and remind you that life is good, and there's an abundance of joy all around us. Simply put: When you follow the things in life that make you come alive and bring you joy...the magic begins to unfold.

Start by checking out the "Best Of" page and be sure to consider subscribing above. Thank you and cheers to joy!

Michelle Joy Stimpson
Executive Editor & Writer
Life Coach, LifeShine

Bill Stimpson: Partner-In-Crime

Bill Stimpson Hi! Not only will you see me “show up” in many of Michelle’s stories and posts here, but I also serve as Michelle’s editor, helping her clarify intentions and make her posts shine.

One of the great joys in my life is being involved with this blog! It’s a constant reminder for me to focus on the things that bring me joy. It also feels great to be sharing so many of these joys with you - in hopes that you, too, will find ways to focus on your own joyful experiences.

Here's to an abundance of joy in your life!

Bill Stimpson
Hubby & Associate Editor

The Parent Company

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