Our final family Christmas celebration dinner was at my sister’s home last Sunday, with my 86 year old mother presiding! When you are 86, one of the eldest of 14 children born to a farming family on the wast coast of Ireland, who came over to London in the 1940s, built a successful business and are now enjoying weekly tai-chi sessions (she can still lift her leg over her head!)… you can’t help but know a thing or two.
Here’s what she said to my two sons:
We were talking at the dinner table about the ‘Current situation’ and about how tough it might be for some. She, of course, has experienced her fair share of good and bad times since 1923.
At one point she cleared her throat and told us that she would share a lesson that she learnt when she was a little girl at school, from one of those old-fashioned ‘Readers’ (a school-text compendium of stories designed to encourage reading skills)
It is a poem called TRY AGAIN, which she recited with the vigour of a warrior:
Drive the nail aright, boys,
Hit it on the head;
Strike with all your might, boys,
While the iron’s red.
When you’ve work to do, boys,
Do it with a will;
They who reach the top, boys,
First must climb the hill.
Standing at the foot, boys,
Gazing at the sky,
How can you get up, boys,
If you never try?
Though you stumble oft, boys,
Never be downcast;
Try, and try again, boys,
You’ll succeed at last.
She said quietly after reciting it that she took the poem to heart as soon as she read it as a child and that it was a constant inspiration to her over the years. I hope it will resonate with my sons as much as it did with me when I first heard it from her as a stronger, younger mother.
The poem is taken from THE BEACON THIRD READER by James H. Fassett with a copyright dated 1914.