It was October 1951 and I was nine years old when hope entered my life in the form of my Aunt Doreen and Uncle Bill. They took me into their family and became my bedrock for five years. For someone who doesn’t do role models, without my realising it, they became mine; their marriage the template for my own family much later in life.
Uncle Bill was a quiet man with a very dry sense of humour. He was also a rock and utterly dependable; always there for you even though he worked 6½ days a week. Doreen, the youngest child of the ten who survived among her brothers and sisters, was protective and caring, even if a little scatty at times. She was a lioness when it came to her family and you messed with them at your peril. I was one of those who was the beneficiary of that quality and it has helped form me. And my point in all this is?
Well Doreen had little sayings that she used, some of which have stuck with me without my realising it. Among these were “Courtesy doesn’t cost you anything” and “Smiling doesn’t cost you anything”. Once, when she was busy and I asked her if she knew where a clean shirt was, she said “Michael, if you stick a broom handle up my bum, I’ll sweep the kitchen floor at the same time”. Although I can’t quite imagine her using the word “bum”.
The one that really sticks in my mind though is “Do what you think is right and you’ll get your rewards”. On the surface this is, obviously, not so as there must be millions of examples everyday where that simply doesn’t happen. Conversely, there are many, well publicised, examples of the exact opposite. However, what, I think, Aunt Doreen meant was that the reward would be in the satisfaction you would get when , sometimes against the odds, you did, what you thought was, the right thing.
I may not have always succeeded, but I’ve tried to live according to that mantra (and the others) and, do you know what, she was right. So, what are your mantras and do you try to live by them?