Ding! Ding! One of us is eatin’ canvas, and it ain’t gonna be me

Today’s post is from my favorite writer and story teller. After reading one of his posts about running in the New York Marathon with no – well very little – training, I figured…What the hell! If he can run a full marathon, I can do a half – Easy Peasy! Well, it wasn’t so easy peasy, he  just motivated me to the point where mental was more more significant than physical. I invite you to take a peek over at Back of the Packer. Joe is about to embark on an incredible journey. His plan is to run 13 marathons in 2012. One every month to raise money and awareness for the Dream Team in support of Make a Wish foundation, and one extra one – his Super Bowl – the New York Marathon in support of Team for Kids. No matter how you slice it up, a marathon a month is insane. I, along with his family, hope he is alive able to walk by the the end of next year. Good Luck Joe!

Now on with the words……

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My grandmother was five feet tall. She barely weighed 100 pounds, and came from a large Irish family dominated by domineering older brothers. Growing up, she experienced the transition from a horse & carriage to the automobile – yet she never once sat behind the wheel of a Dodge Dart. She lived through World War I, Babe Ruth moving from Boston to NYC, the Great Depression, World War II, the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr., the Korean War, NASA placing a man on the surface of the moon, Vietnam, Watergate, twenty six New York Yankee World Series Championships, DiMaggio and Monroe, the Rat Pack, the music of Louie Prima….and the all four New York Ranger Stanley Cups (that last one is a biggie). (…I just re-read that last sentence – wow do I love commas). She passed away at the ripe old age of 94 years…yet she would never admit her age to anyone. If someone asked her how old she was, her response would always be “I’m 21+”. My grandmother is one of my sources of motivation – for I cannot comprehend the degree of worldly change she took thin through those crystal blue eyes.

One of the many, many things I have learned from my grandmother came from a conversation I had with her about a year before she passed on. I recall asking her, “Grandma – you’ve seen and experienced so many difficult times…how did you keep going when things got tough? I mean, it couldn’t be easy getting by during the Great Depression and World War II. So much negativity throughout the world. Not much was going right. How did you see things through?” ….her answer floored me – and it echoes in the back of my head each time I feel like things are taking a turn for the worst.

My grandmother took my hand in her’s and said in that soft voice which carried a wonderful Bronx accent “Joey, you gotta wake up every morning ready to go toe-to-toe with the world. Life’s like a boxing match, and you gotta be Rocky Marciano. She’ll throw lefts and rights at ya all day long. Wake up late and miss your bus to work? Whack – right in da face. Gotta work overtime and won’t be home for dinner? Pop – a hard left to da jaw, ya know? But every time the world slugs ya a good one in the kisser, ya gotta smile and say ‘is that all ya got?’ and then egg the bastard on to throw the next punch. And once in a while, da bastard will get lucky and sock ya a good one right on da button. You’ll get knocked down. But then ya gotta bounce back up quick, ya know? Dust yourself off and then tell da bastard he got lucky and egg him on again. That’s da key.”

“What’s the key, Grandma?”

“Joey, whenever the bastard clocks ya a good one in the face and knocks ya down, ya gotta pop right back up. Don’t waste a second on the canvas. Get the hell back up quick, even if you’re still walkin’ down Woozy Boulevard. Get up. That’s the key. Get the hell up. Don’t stay down.”

“But what if it’s something really tough, Grandma? Sometimes I feel like I cannot handle my responsibilities. And I have goals for myself – big ones. But there are times where I feel like I don’t have what it takes to attain them.”

She sighed, took a sip of tea, and patted my hand and replied “Joey, we were all born as undefeated champs. Ya can do anything ya want in life, as long as ya stand toe to toe with da world. Look the bastard in the eye and tell him ‘one of us is eatin’ canvas…and it ain’t gonna be me’.

Unfortunately, I forgot that conversation for a few years. I got popped on the chin a few times and took a looooooong time to get back up. But that’s OK, and long as I keep answering the bell for the next round.

Ding! Ding!

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