The grass is always greener …
Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. There ain’t no free lunch, someone always pays one way or another. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade — just remember you have to add the sugar. And the list goes on.
These phrases and these times bring me memories of my mother. My mother was a true realist. If you looked up the word pragmatist in the dictionary you might see her picture rather than the definition.
Mother grew up in Russellville, Ky., the daughter of a tobacco farmer. Her life was never easy, but she rarely complained. She taught us to see life as it really was and not believe in the hype and slick marketing strategies that would lead us down the primrose path toward ultimate disappointment. As a child growing up accepting her philosophy wasn’t always easy to do. We tended to go along with our father’s philosophy of “live, dream, take chances” and that dreams are the things that give us the courage to face our challenges.
Personal loss and disappointments, while certainly understandable, can be difficult to deal with when there are equally serious issues facing our city, town or society as a whole. It is when we have these types of struggles that we simply cannot lose faith or give up on those in whom we believe. And that is the long way of getting to my message to you as I write this commentary.
I’m certain that Mother had dreams, although she rarely shared them unless they were the dreams she had for each of her children. I remember her standing with hands on hips and saying, “Vicki Diane, get on with it. Pull yourself up by your boot straps and make the best of it, stop whining.” That was Mother! No nonsense, no whimpering, just dealing with the things that came your way and making the best of every situation. She was the strongest woman I have ever known; her courage was unparalleled and her belief in me and my siblings was unfaltering in competition only with what she believed to be the right thing to do.
But being the forever realist or pragmatist is not always easy, and it isn’t necessarily a life that brings happiness and joy. Never allowing oneself to be the optimist, see the glass half-full, dream dreams, or be the visionary or risk taker can take its toll; although that was how Mother chose to live her life, she somehow made sure we didn’t follow in her footsteps, however.
I believe she lived vicariously through each of us and our successes and happy times. Although she would understand why this particular time of the year may not be the happiest of times for me personally, tolerance would not be something she would express. I know that if she were here today, she would be standing in the middle of the room, hands on hips and telling me to “buck up.” Wallowing in self-pity or giving in to defeatism is never a winning strategy. With Mother it was always about virtue, goodness, and being true to one’s self and others; determination to see things through to the end for the good of all was ingrained in her heart and soul.
Mother taught me that we can never give up on what, and who, we know to be right. We can’t allow ourselves to sink to the level of the pond scum that would bring us down because we are feeling momentarily defeated. Throwing in the towel and giving up is not the answer just because the hills have become mountains, and the streams raging rivers. Just as the men and women who have fought for our country, the pioneers who traveled across the plains and deserts to settle in what must have seemed like desolate and lonely places, just as the pilgrims who set sail and suffered with dysentery and sea sickness to settle in a new land, we must continue to move forward with a vision of progress and the determination to see our belief of what is right and good through to their ultimate goal.
We, here in this city, village, town and county have left behind October and are moving toward the end of 2019. We have come through a challenging time; some see the past couple of weeks as a victory and others as a loss — but neither will be tomorrow what they seem today — life changes things and people.
Yes, I’m speaking of the recent election. To those who have won I congratulate you for your efforts and I wish you success. However, I caution you to remember that your victory is about the people you have promised to serve — it is not really about you. To those who lost, life is not over, there are more chapters to write, more life to live, and more challenges to overcome; so, pull yourselves up with your bootstraps and get on with it!
If Mother were here today, she would make a pan of cornbread, a big bowl of butter beans, a “scrump-de-delicious” pan of peach cobbler and a tall glass of iced tea. She would tell me stories of Grandpa and his tobacco fields. If I begged her enough, she would get her guitar and sing some of her favorite hymns, “The Old Rugged Cross” or “Will the Circle be Unbroken” and I would clap and beg for more — more singing and definitely more peach cobbler! My sorrows and disappointments would fade and I would know that everything was going to be just fine.
So, whether working through a difficult time, enjoying a win or accepting a loss, the sun will come up tomorrow, while sorrow and disappointments will change us, they don’t have to define us. And as for winning, just remember to be careful for what you wish — it might just come true; and keep hold of those boot straps — you just might need them to pull yourself up. Another scoop of peach cobbler please.
Have a great day.
Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org