It’s a grand life if you don’t weaken

Cindy ArpOur Town Outdoors

A favorite saying of a cousin of mine has been echoing in my head recently: “It’s a grand life if you don’t weaken.” Ever curious me looked up the origin of this expression and came across the quirky but exceedingly apropos story behind the saying.

In 1908, the Salt Lake City police picked up a man who they assumed was a hobo (slang for a homeless person). The “hobo” turned out to be a man named Thomas Carter, a wealthy person who was living in a homeless encampment in Provo, Utah. Carter told the officers to contact his bankers for verification, which they did. When the police asked Carter why he was doing this, he replied, “… Talk about experience, why when I get back to the folks, I will have had enough experience to fill a molasses barrel. When I get home, I will sure have a bigger heart for these fellows you officers term tramps.”

A journalist with “The Evening Telegram” of Salt Lake City heard about the arrest and sensing a good story, interviewed Carter, asking him about his motivation. Carter replied, “Well, I’ll tell you I am just paying an election bet. I bet that “Uncle Joe” Cannon would not be re-elected to the House and now I must make good as a hobo for 60 days or forfeit $5,000. It’s a grand life if you don’t weaken.”

I am presently having a grand life and not weakening. Here is why. Husband Dan and I raised two sons and like parents everywhere, while we loved and wanted our kids, life was hard. We were working, we were cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, attending soccer games, driving to piano lessons, or scouts or karate. We were tired and we were worried. Were we doing everything right? Were we being patient? The years passed and after our boys had degrees, good jobs and married their forever person, we breathed a sigh of relief.

With time we began to look back on those times with fondness, remembering the good and wishing we could go back.

This month I am being granted my wish. For most of this month I am in California helping to take care of our grandchild while his mommy is out of the country on business. Daddy’s job is also very busy and down one person, help is needed. Mommy has never been away before and I am filling her role as best I can.

Grandparenting is a marvelous role, a role whose main function is to love the child and to savor the moments. I have wished to play this role for years and while I enjoy every moment, chasing an active, curious two-year-old takes energy. At the end of the day, I generally fall into bed to recuperate.

Falling into bed every night means I won’t be writing this column for the rest of this month. You’ll eventually find me back in Tennessee, smiling, and when I fully recuperate, you’ll hear from me again. Signing off for now, NanaCindy

Cindy Arp, teacher/librarian, retired from Knox County Schools. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell.


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