Monday 7 November 2016

Winning the Lottery

Something a bit different today ...

It's a poem I wrote years ago about my maternal grandfather.

It's a true story.

And it's a lesson that I often think of, when I've had a close call, when I've had a bit of good luck, or when I've had what seems like bad luck but is really nothing in the big scheme of things.



He was a small man, thin and slight;
Tough in his younger days, but
Frail now, from eighty years of living.
Perched on his heels
On the edge of a wooden kitchen chair,
Smoke curling from a neglected cigarette
Held between trembling fingers,
He gazed into the air,
Brown eyes bright and alert.
"You know," he said slowly,
"I've never bothered to buy lottery tickets.
"And I'll tell you why."
Grandad paused, to make sure I was listening.
I was.  He was a good storyteller.
Stories of his working life, mostly.
He was a coal miner,
Working shifts underground, in "the pit".
His level voice came again.
"One day, we were working the face as usual,
"Planting the shot to bring down the rock and coal.
"But the shot blew too soon.
"It blew boulders the size of a man,
"And I would have been killed, except
"The blast knocked me over, down between two rocks.
"When the noise stopped,
"And the dust cleared a little,
"I opened my eyes to see another rock,
"Balanced on the rocks on each side of me –
"Right over me, but not quite touching me."
He tapped the long ash from the trembling cigarette.
"There was just room for a small man under that rock."
A small man, thin and slight.
Slowly, he added,
"I had my sweepstakes luck that day."
Then he looked at me and smiled,
Brown eyes gentle and deep.


Elephant's Child said...

Not only did he have his sweepstakes luck that day - so did his family. And, I strongly suspect, everyone who came in contact with him.
This is lovely. Thank you. And him.

Geo. said...

Jenny, that's a wonderful poem. I know the law of averages sometimes produces extraordinary events --but afterward, there is an adjustment in us that is hard to express, yet you have done so very well.

LL Cool Joe said...

Well I don't believe in luck, I think everything happens for a reason. Sadly it's not always the reason or the result we want. Nice story.

Terry said...

Good story.

Joanne Noragon said...

My grandfather was in the mines, too.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, EC. He was a strong personality, and like anyone he had his good and bad points. But I learned a good deal from him.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, Geo. I tried to turn this into prose, but somehow the story lost something.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, Treey. It has stayed with me for many decades now.

jenny_o said...

There were a lot of tragedies in those mines, weren't there? A lot of men died.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, Joe. I'm pondering your comment about "it's not always the reason or the result we want" - intriguing! You've made me think.

dinthebeast said...

Awesome poem. I used to say that I had burned up all of my good luck as a motorcycle racer with some of the shenanigans I pulled without any major harm, but it really hit home to me after my stroke, when my doctors told me that I was lucky that I was as strong as I was, but the real luck was about the size and location of the blood clot and was measured in hundredths of a millimeter...

-Doug in Oakland

jenny_o said...

Indeed. Lucky, yes - in all of those things.

baili said...

i had strong bonding with my maternal grand father and i feel myself lucky that he took good part in buildingup my personality.
your poem touched my heart and revealed your love for you grandfather
thank you for sharing

jenny_o said...

Thank you for your kind words, baili. Yes, you were lucky to have such a bond with your grandfather.

Valerie said...

I didn't really know my grandparents.... how sad is that?
Loved your poetic story though. Read it twice.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, Valerie. And thanks for dropping by.

John Going Gently said...

Grandparents are special..especially if you had a special one

jenny_o said...


Margo said...

oh my goodness, that's amazing! He sounds like a very special man.

jenny_o said...

There were lots of close calls in the mine, and quite a few tragedies as well. It's a dangerous occupation. He was lucky, for sure.

Chicken said...

I. Love. This. I love you, Jenny. This is something special.

jenny_o said...

Awww, Chicken, thank you so much. I'm glad you liked it. xx

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

What an amazing story! We all need to see the miracles in our lives. There'd be a lot less Lotto sales! :)

jenny_o said...

And the thing is, we ALL have miracles. Sometimes they're big, like this one. Sometimes they're little, but they are still important.