My grandfather used to say that it was no use worrying, even if it looked like disaster was a sure thing. This advice came from someone who was experienced in disaster.
His mother died before he was two; his father, before he was ten. Young Will ended up in the care of his one-legged Uncle Jim. Family lore has it that Uncle Jim lost his leg gun-running in the Civil War. Family lore also has it that Jim didn’t lose his bold sense of adventure when he lost his leg, and that, in fact, it was young Will who looked after his uncle, not the other way around.
Then Uncle Jim died and Will was only 12. Will was determined not to go to an orphanage, or to school, for that matter. He found a job as an office boy; his new boss bought him a bed at the Y, to keep him from sleeping on the street.
My grandfather worked for the same company until he died at age 83. He was Chairman of the Board.
This stability didn’t mean that he never saw another disaster. Three rapscallion sons and one determined daughter saw to that. As did World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II (in which all of his sons served). His beloved wife suffered from cancer and recovered. The recovery was unexpected.
So often I heard him say that even when, as far as you can see ahead, the road looks straight and there is a disaster barreling down on you, don’t bet on it. So many times, he said, I have worried and worried, and then, suddenly, the road curved, and there was no disaster after all. Or what I thought was a disaster, wasn’t.
Being a proper Irishman, though, he would add, “it’s something that you haven’t even thought of that is going to knock you flat…”
This coming week we vote. Grandpa’s good Irish sense is something we need to remember.