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  • Writer's pictureShana Watkins

It was a letter from my Grandpa, and I cried when I saw what was inside.

Updated: May 30, 2023

When I opened the letter, I first had to catch my breath, and then the tears came.

It was a letter from my Grandpa, and I was stunned to see a check for $1000 tucked inside. He wanted me to use it to start my business in whatever way I could use it. No strings attached and no repayment allowed. It's as if he knew exactly what I needed to make that first courageous move toward the unknown, and I never once took it for granted.

Grandpa passed away on Thanksgiving Day two years, and to be honest, I'll never be ok about it. He was smart and funny and had enviable one-liners, hilarious especially because no one thought he was even paying attention. He also thought I could do anything I set my mind to.

Sending that check was the perfect example of how he liked to work. In his own way, he cut through the chatter with a single, statement-making investment in me.

I think he decided that if I wasn't going to be the first female president of the United States (his first choice for me growing up), that being a business owner was the next best thing.

And he should know - he had some really cool jobs. He was in the military, worked his way into the communications office of President Truman and later started his own law practice in a small town near where he grew up. Yet, looking back, I can see that it was entrepreneurship that really inspired him. He had side hustles before that was even a thing.

  • a hard rock radio station (my Dad was a DJ)

  • a video store (also on the town square next to his law office)

  • a bed and breakfast in Costa Rica

I wouldn't be surprised if there were more, and I would guess there may even be some that failed. Opening a small business is risky, and it's demanding. But it comes with an amazing sense of gratitude, something that I feel everyday for my clients.

I'm forever grateful to my Grandpa for helping me with that huge first hurdle in becoming a St Louis photographer and also to everyone who has helped keep the momentum going all these years, even in the toughest of times... Covid, I'm talking about you.

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