Hard Work | Bill Blades, Hero
You hear a lot of people say, “If I win the Lottery I would ________.” You could fill in the blank with any number of things. From material items to supporting admirable causes, we all have our list just waiting to pounce in the event that we catch a windfall. It strikes me that you rarely hear someone say, “If I ever work hard enough to make a million dollars I would ________.” There is a distinct disconnect that our generation needs to stand up and take responsibility for. Somewhere between ours and the Greatest Generation, we’ve lost touch with what it means to work. I don’t mean work like most of us know it. I mean work as your Grandfather knew work. Hard work. The blood, toil, tears, and sweat (T. Roosevelt) kind of work. The work that brings a special sense of earned satisfaction with it.
The blood, toil, tears, and sweat kind of work.
I passed the home of my grandfathers childhood best friend today. I don’t typically pass his house and I stopped in on a whim despite having little time to dedicate to a visit. Though he wasn’t home, it was just nice to know he is still hard at it. Wood was stacked neatly in the wood-pile and a plume of smoke drifted from the chimney. I had narrowly missed him. He has to be going on 80 these days, at least thats how old my grandfather would have been if he was still around. They were best friends since 3rd grade according to the stories I’d heard them tell hundreds of times.
My grandfather liked to tell a story about Bill in which he exemplifies his generations dedication to hard work. Bill had to be in his late 60′s or early 70′s when this took place. According to my grandfather, Bill was chopping wood as he did frequently to heat the modest house he shares with his wife Doris. Anyone who has split wood in their lifetime knows what a chore it is. After a few logs were split Bill decided to take a rest in the house. After removing his boots and his flannel over-shirt (standard Bill and Howard uniform), he retired to the couch to catch his breath. Laying on the couch he felt a sharp pain in his chest. Bill just knew this was it (see also: heart attack). He had over done it with the axe and now was going to pay for it with his life. This is where the story gets interesting. Home alone, he immediately pulled on his boots and threw on his flannel. Moving with great haste he crossed the backyard and made his way over to the wood pile. He removed the axe from the stump, placed it on the ground, and set himself down along side of it. After 10 or 15 minutes, the pain in his chest subsided and he started feeling fine. It was indigestion, masquerading as a something far worse. Bill chuckled, picked himself up and went back to the house.
He went out and laid next to the wood pile because, as he tells it, ” I didn’t want to be found laying on the couch from a damn heart attack.” Instinctively, Bill wanted people to remember him for what he was. Steadfastly hardworking…to the END. There is a lesson in there for us all. Maybe a few.
I still remember how hard my Grandfather would laugh at that story. It never failed to bring him to laughter induced tears. It did the same to Bill.