As a writer, there are times when I’m cramping my brain for something worthy enough to get out of my head and down on paper. Other times, there’s no question where the inspiration comes from.
A few weeks ago, a post came up across my Instagram feed. Because of the photo, because of the quote, I was curious to know about the author and the story.
I ordered this new book and within a few days, it was stuffed into my Post Office box. I was eager to dig right in to it but running a farm single handedly, quiet time is precious. When evening comes, I sit down with good intentions, but the days chores and a tired body usually results in heavy eyelids winning more often than not. About the 3rd day, the calling from the bedside table became louder and curiosity got the best of me. I made a cup of tea and headed back out to the barn after morning chores, book tucked under my arm.
I joined my new little bunny, Mr. McGregor, sitting in a pile of new hay, gnawing away on the piece of apple I’d given him. The morning disappeared as chapter after chapter unfolded. That night, I climbed in bed early and finished the book. The next morning, as I opened up my Instagram, I posted this, along with the picture Islandport Press had posted. “If you want to be inspired beyond belief, renew your faith in the goodness of people, believe in love again, cheer for hard working folks who never give up, be astonished at the tenacity of the human spirit, relish in simplicity, read this book.” I feel so lucky to cross paths with people in this world, who, through their mere presence, determination, humility, or compassion, have been an inspiration to me. Sometimes, it’s people I’ve been privileged to meet, sometimes it’s through stories of their lives.
That seed was planted when as a child, I sat around the kitchen table with my Grandmother and Great Aunt Mildred listening to the same stories, over and over, about them growing up in Revere, Massachusetts. My Great Grandparents landed there after coming off the boat from Ireland.
They farmed, grew produce, which my Great Grandfather took to Faneuil Hall in Boston to sell. He would meet up with his cousin who was a wool merchant. My Great Grandparents called their home the Do-Drop Inn because that’s what people did, sometimes just to say hello, for a cup of tea or as Aunty Mil told it in the case of one visitor, for a year. Stories of my Great Grandmother making jar after jar of jam from the fruit trees on the farm. Stories of kittens being delivered to neighboring farms. I still have the basket Great Grandma Brennen used to carry them. I can only imagine the amount of work it took and the long hours they must have endured. They bore 7 children, burying them all before their twenties, then 10 years later, bore 3 more. My Grandmother and her sister were the only 2 who lived into their 90’s. Reading May’s book, it all came flooding back to me. The title says it all. It’s a mantra for farmers and fishermen and like minded people who never give up. It’s a title that inspires. It’s a title for today as much as it was in 1897 when my Grandmother was born. “Whatever it Takes.” Sometimes it takes everything we think we’ve got, and more.
It’s when you dig deeper. When you sit up all night waiting for new born lambs or kids. When things don’t come out the way you planned but, you just change plans. When Mother Nature decides this old Earth needs more rain or snow than you would like, making growing seasons too long or too short, but accept it anyway because you’re not in charge. When the phone rings and it’s not the news you want to hear, but you hold hands and close your eyes and say thank you anyway. We may not ever return to a way of life described in May’s book. But, we can still be inspired by it. We can still know there are lots of good people, we meet them every day. We can still cheer for each other, love what we do, believe there’s an answer, inspire others and go to bed at night, living a life with no regrets. I know we can do these things because there are people who have done them and are doing them every day. People who don’t see themselves as victims of their circumstance but rather better because of the challenges they face.
Farmers who show up to help get the hay in. Fishermen who face the angry seas to rescue a boat come off it’s mooring in an October N’oreaster. Emergency workers who answer calls no matter what the time of day or night. People who dig deep and finish writing their book, even though their lifetime companion is no longer by their side. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things, never expecting anything in return. People living life on life's terms.
Thank you May, for sharing your story with us. You and your beloved Jim set an example for us all. Your presence will forever stay in our hearts in the singing of your beautiful bouy bells, yet another example of never giving up.