It’s a simple yet beautiful story of how a grandfather’s love shaped the course of one Irish American man’s life.
A recent Humans of New York post about how a grandfather’s love shaped the course of one Irish American man’s life is resonating powerfully.
Yesterday, January 17, Humans of New York (HONY) creator Brandon Stanton shared one of his signature photos and quotes featuring a man in New York City’s Grand Central station who opened up about the extraordinary impact his grandfather, Daniel O’Connell Renehan, had on his life.
As he explained, fighting in Vietnam left his own father too traumatized to be a constant, stable force, and his mother was focused on working to support herself and her children, so his grandfather stepped in as an attentive, positive influence.
He set a model of resilience, watched Notre Dame football games with him, took him on long walks, and told him stories about Irish kings:
“My father was a different person when he came home from Vietnam. He drank a lot. He was never around. So everything I learned about being a man, I learned from my grandfather-- Daniel O’Connell Renehan. He also grew up without parents. When he was two years old, his mother died while cooking soup. The cauldron fell on her. So my grandfather spent his childhood in an orphanage. He never went to school, but he educated himself. He was a voracious reader. Eventually he became the treasurer of a bank on Park Avenue. He was in his late fifties when I was born. But he treated me like his son. We’d watch Notre Dame Football together. We’d go on long walks. We’d sit on an old covered swing for hours and he’d tell me stories about Irish kings. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. My mother did her best, but she was always at work, and there were too many wrong roads to take. So I’ve lived my life by his example. Being a father has always been the most important thing to me. I’ve got four kids of my own now. All of them turned out great. And one of them is named Daniel.”
“My father was a different person when he came home from Vietnam. He drank a lot. He was never around. So everything...Publiée par Humans of New York sur Jeudi 17 janvier 2019
In less than 24 hours, the post has received over 385,000 likes between Instagram and Facebook, and over 3,450 comments, as people began sharing their support and stories of their own grandparents or caregivers who made them who they are.
“I just lost my grandfather back in May. He was like a father to me too, even though I still have my Dad. He was the life and soul of the party. He would talk to complete strangers and make friends with them. He knew everyone's name and would make sure to call them by it. I was a really shy kid so I was in awe of him for doing this. And I aimed to live by his example.” wrote Marc Quinn.
“When I was 3 years old, my father passed, pushing my mom into depression for 8 years before an overdose took her. I have my wonderful grandmother to thank for keeping me on track and raising me like her own. Unfortunately due to my mother's drug abuse, she wasn't there for me in the way a mother should. My grandmother is my savior and I count myself blessed to have had such a wonderful woman raise me into the woman I am today. Grandparents are parents, just grander. So happy you had your Grand-Dad.” shared Catelyn Sistrunk.
Another commenter took the time to track down Daniel O’Connell Renehan and learn more about his life:
“I am a professional genealogist and could not read something as amazing as this story, and just NOT do a little research on Daniel O'Connell Renehan! He can, in fact, be found on the 1920 and 1925 Census (NY state) living in a Catholic orphanage. He seems to have a brother named Michael that he stays close to, moving out of the orphanage and living together in the Bronx for a bit while Daniel clerks at a bank. Daniel served in WWII. I see that he gets engaged and marrie[d] (newspaper announcement). To the man whose story is posted here/in the picture above: message me if you would like a family tree for your grandfather. I would be glad to help put one together so you can pass on to your kids, their kids, etc. <3” offered Kimberly N. Morgan.
We love how this post is encouraging people to share stories about their own grandparents and would love to hear yours! Tag us on Facebook or Instagram, leave a note in the comments here, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org