Pray don't find fault with the man who limps
Or stumbles along the road,
Unless you have worn the shoes he wears
Or struggled beneath his load.
These may be tacks in his shoes that hurt,
tho' hidden away from view,
Or the burden he bears placed on your back,
Might cause you to stumble, too.
Don't sneer at the man who's down today,
Unless you have felt the blow,
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.
You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, if dealt to you
In the selfsame say at the selfsame time,
Might cause you to stagger, too.
The poem above was one that my own mother shared with me when I was young. She explained to me what it meant and how you should not judge others because you just do not know their story.
My mother was born during World War 2 and lived her early childhood not only during the Depression, but without her dear daddy who was a Sapper in the army and stationed in Singapore.
Try as I might, I cannot truly imagine how difficult this must have been and yet I saw no real evidence of such a life changing start in the amazing woman she was to become. There are times I have wondered why she made particular choices in her life but, when I think about the poem above, I realise that she must have had her reasons.
My mother was awesome.
She was a great cook and inspired me to a great love of cooking too. She taught me to think for myself and encouraged me to be a strong yet kind and loving woman. I also learnt not to take shit from anyone and to do my best not to be too righteous. Mum passed on her love of reading (something echoed by my dad) and many a lazy Sunday was spent with the three of us just sitting at the kitchen table - each one lost in a book. Ah, those were the days!
Mum was also an incredibly cool nanna. Perhaps that is where I get it from!
My own grandparents lived in Melbourne and I only saw them rarely and, if I am perfectly honest with you, they scared the pants off me . . . especially my dad's dad. They were old people and I had nothing in common with them. They hardly knew me either and, for my birthday and Christmas (same day) would give me rather unusual presents such as a brightly coloured beanie or some strange jumper which did not quite fit me. I know that you are probably thinking that these gifts sound EXACTLY the right sort of things grandparents give their grandkids . . . but I was often left rather puzzled and disappointed by them.
When I had my first daughter (let's call her Ellie, although it is not her real name . . . you know how it goes, the names are changed to protect the innocent and believe me she was innocent) I decided that MY kids would get to know their grandparents in a way I had never had the chance to. I wanted them to be involved in daily stuff, real stuff that they would all benefit from.
And so, even though I was not even aware of it, my apprenticeship began . . .