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.