My grandfather was quite a serious fellow, an absolutely lovely fellow, he was a (or even "the") chief quarter master for the Royal Mail in Nottinghamshire before he retired. However, a mere five years, after he retired he had a diagnosis of lung cancer and was dead shortly thereafter. The first major figure in my life to pass away.
I was eighteen, had just started university, and being honest with myself it affected me deeply, both personally, mentally and spiritually. Personally as my mother then assumed she was the helmsman of the family, never have I seen the monkey leading the organ grinder more ineffectually. Then mentally, he was gone, the one great intellectual figure in my life was gone.
His intellectual influence was deeper on me today than perhaps I ever realised, I remember when I was around three or four he showed me how to write the figure 8. I distinctly remember his being behind me, his affirmative arms either side of me as he intoned an 8 before me, and I copied. There was always paper to doodle on and pens in a draw, they were the main "play thing" of a wet or dank day, of which there are many in Britain.
He taught me to pronounce things, and to this day I can slap on a lovely accented English, very polite, which he taught me; and which my wife adores when I use it within a telephone conversation. It empowers me to escape my strong, rough, Nottingham accent whenever I wish, both are part of me, one through nature the other nurture.
I also remember his buying books, or handing me books, the first I remember were the complete Encyclopedia Britannica, a lovely red leather bound set; which must have cost a fortune in the early 1980's; I'd sit and paw over these pages for hours, years later I remember some kid at school going on about French writers, I instantly named Victor Hugo... Thanks to those hours spent with my nose in a book. Kids today can look things up instantly with the internet, but watch out for the kid who avidly reads anything, they might just be expressing their interests early.
Another day he handed me a huge book, it was a cheat book, with every answer to most all the crossword questions of the day, he was teaching me a lesson... You could sit and think about the intricate layout of the crossword, how things meet, depart and conjoin. However, you could also just get the bloody answer. This has become a massive power for me, I feel enabled, even if I don't know anything about a topic, or it's currently not on my mental radar, it is but a quick read away.
I know this, I'm sure reading this, you know it too. However, how many people out there look at someone judge them and then think they can't do the same as them? I'd suggest a lot of them do... When really they might just need to read the right book, or take the right advice, don't close yourself off from these people, embrace them, help them, let them help you too.