Life is full of ups and downs. In my down moments I will often look for inspiration. One of my favorite places to draw from is the poem "The Man Who Thinks He Can" by Napoleon Hill.
My Grandma Schroeder was a wonderful lady. I loved her very much. She used to clip out coupons from the newspaper and send them to me at college. She would send me checks. And then she would give me hell, because I was an 'ornery little shit'. You see I didn't use them. Or cash the checks (unless I was really super COLLEGE BROKE).
I'm kind of sentimental like that. I still have movie stub's from when I was a teenager, and most of the movie stubs from any of the shows that the kids and I have sat threw.
I loved it that she cared for me so much that she would clip a coupon and send it off to me in the mail. I could see her sitting at the kitchen table, paper spread wide, Sudoku and crossword filled out, and smell the coffee that she had brewed. I could see the light streaming in the sliding glass door behind her in the morning. I could see her spot a deal and think "Bradley could use this", and clip a coupon.
She would get out an envelope and a stamp from the same drawer that held the playing cards, the dice, and the Wrigley's DoubleMint gum in the green case. I could smell the mint as she opened it. She would, look up my address from her address book. Fill out the envelope, and later in the day she would walk it down to the mail box.
As a child I played there, and it would always surprise me how small everything seemed when I returned. Looking down at the table instead of up at her.
When I close my eyes now I'm still looking up, and I see her in the bright sunlight. I see the front yard that Grandpa kept so neat. I remember looking down at the back yard and Grandpa's rose bushes from a big red porch on the other side of the sliding glass door.
I would hold those moments whenever the road seemed long, whenever I felt very far from home, or anything that resembled victory seemed equally out of reach. In those moments. I would close my eyes and be back in Illinois, looking at Grandma at the table.
Those coupons were worth far more to me than if I had ever used them. I think I still have a couple. The prized possession arrived one day in the mail. It had been a very hard year. She had clipped out of the Peoria Journal Star the poem "The Man Who Thinks He Can".
I re-read it today and thought that it would be worth sharing.