I recall fond memories of visiting my Grandparents home on a Saturday afternoon, when I was just a child.
The delicious aroma of homemade rice pudding, mixed with the strong stench of tripe and onions, would greet us at the door, whilst our Nan; Little Nan as my siblings and I fondly referred to her, would be working away in the hot kitchen making her delicious creamy milk puddings for our Grandad's tea. His hiatus hernia appreciated it.
My Grandad would usually be sat in his chair in the living room during our Saturday visits, busy checking the numbers on the Vernon's pools coupons.
"Rotherham - 1, Doncaster Rovers - Nil",
The familiar weekly sound of the gentleman commentator on the big old TV set.
Grandad's whispers of 'Yessss, or Nooo would give an indication of how likely it was that his numbers were up this week!
The things that were going to happen when our Grandad's numbers came up was anyone's business!
A fancy holiday in Wales for the entire family, a new kitchen for our Nan, a New Land-rover for our Dad, a new home for my Aunt, toys and sweets galore for the kids, the list was endless! Grandad was determined; totally committed to the cause, and week after week, year after year, regular as clockwork, there he would be, sat in his chair with said coupon in hand.
I have never felt so cheated as I did the day my Grandad died.
I was 23, he was 69 and despite his dedication, his numbers never once came up!
He had invested so much of his time and energy, hoping and praying, fingers and toes crossed, ever Saturday from as far back as I can remember; everyone of us, rooting for him!
The idea that he had died having never achieved his dream of spoiling the people he loved lay heavy in my heart and mind for a long time.
25 years have passed since then, and its only now, that I fully appreciate the significance of that dreadful sense of being cheated by life and recognise the impact that it had. Surprisingly enough, its effects would prove to be entirely positive.
Subconsciously I had convinced myself that sitting and waiting for someone or something outwith my control to decide my fate was not an option for me. The bitter disappointment I had encountered on my Grandad's behalf, had inadvertently positively shaped my future. I had convinced myself that the only way forward was to seize the day, take every opportunity, navigate the obstacles, change what I can, accept what I can't, recognise what can be done rather than allowing myself to be held back by what can't.
Valuable lessons are often learned through difficult circumstances, lessons that we pass on to our children by default.
He was a good man my Grandad, a proud Man. Popular, Principled and hardworking. He'd had a tough upbringing - not that he ever complained about it. His family were extremely poor. One of 13 children, his Mum had died when he was just a young boy. Expected to muck in and do his bit, he was sent off to work down the pit at just 13 years of age, a job that he continued to do until he retired through coal dust related illnesses just four decades later, a man in his fifties - not much older than I am now!
Many people; more than 26 million of them in the UK alone, regularly invest their time and energy, waiting for the big lotto win so they start to live the life they have always dreamed of. I used to wonder what would have become of me if my Grandad had hit the jackpot!
These days I am both grateful and delighted that he never did win, because so much of who I am is down to the fact that he never did.
The chances of changing your life by winning the national lottery in the UK? 1 in 45 Million.
The chances of changing your life by choice? 50/50, either you will or you won't!
'Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory, (Dr Suess.). How very true!
Carpe Diem my Friends - I Hope to see you here tomorrow!