Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dessie: Patience & Work Ethic

I’m writing about my grandparents this month.  (Please consider reading Grandpa and My Mere Mere)

Besides having the great name of Dessie, my Dad’s mom was a super cool lady, especially with her grandchildren.  I remember her, me, and my younger brother being out in the yard after a serious downpour, one that created a big puddle in her yard.  Tyler was tip-toeing next to the water, like a tight rope walker, staying dry until I gave him a little bump; just enough to send him face first into the deep puddle.  He was mad, but Grandma was total calmness.  She wasn’t happy either.  Not at all.  But she just gave me a look, one that said it all.  Then she took care of my soaked brother.

My grandma got excited, but only at the right times.  Like when she was happy or having fun or schooling me in a game of Racco.  She was a rock when she needed to be; like with my Aunt Velma who had Down’s Syndrome and spent a lot of her later years living with my grandparents.  My Aunt Velma was sweet and fun, but she also needed extra attention and my grandma was so great to/with her.  I need more of that.  When my plumber has an avoidable leak, or a mason has to rebuild a wall or chimney that’s not plumb, or one of my subcontractors blows me off for another client, I need to remember my grandma.  I need to keep calm and have patience.

The Early Birds; folded, bagged, and
stacked on the table.  Good times!  
But equally important is how my Grandma helped to instill a valuable attitude about work into her grandchildren.  As retirees, my grandparents had two newspaper routes that they did together.  They got the bundles of papers on Mondays and delivered them to farmers and rural families on Tuesdays.  We’d fold the newspapers with them every Monday after school.  Not some Monday’s.  Each and every Monday.  Was it work?  You bet it was.  But was it fun at Grandma’s while we worked?  Oh yeah.  She enjoyed and needed our help, but there were no rules on the snacks.  I mean, it was like Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory over there; M&M’s, Hershey Bars, Coke’s, ice cream bars, etc.; lots of things that could distract you from the job of folding the newspapers and stuffing them in one of the round laundry baskets.  But here was the lesson that got drilled into us over the weeks, months, and years:  the harder we worked the more we got paid.  The rule was:  A penny a paper.  This was how it was forever, until Grandma passed away. 

Remember how my grandma took it easy on me when I pushed my brother into that puddle.  Well, when it came to paying up for folding newspapers, she was all business.  No breaks.  An important lesson.  Tears, begging, the boo-boo face… nothing mattered.  She stuck to the rule.  Always.  If I dawdled around and only folded one bundle, then I got two quarters and that was it.  If I got at it and knocked out six bundles, then I got my three bucks.  And there was no bonus money or tips for folding those massive papers with all the Christmas advertisements in December.  She may have indulged us with the sweets and gifts, but when it came to paying us for folding the newspapers, she was strict, firm, and unyielding.  She was teaching us something we needed.

Miss you Grandma...

As I've mentioned before, I played sports in high school and took a lot away from those experiences about work and perseverance, but early on folding those papers was tough and my grandma taught me how to push through tired times when I wanted to stop.  Some may wonder if I've ever wanted to quit in the middle of one of my Pig's Ear projects.  I haven't.  Not once.  Honestly, that has never crossed my mind.  Other people have encouraged me to walk away before a closing or figure out a way to get out of finishing, but I’ve kept on and made it through each one.  And to be fair that’s not all about my grandmother's influence, I just really love what I do and leaving my project unfinished would mean... missing out on a whole lot of fun.

Jump to Pere Pere:  Our Jack of all Trades

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