November/December 2020 - 8

calloused hands,
By Ken Mannie, columnist
Calloused Hands, Bloody Knuckles, and a Fire in
your Heart - As with most of you, I've derived a lot of
the motivation for my life from family members. In my
family, the main source of inspiration was my grandfather,
Gabriel. Stern, stubborn, and strong as an ox in many
ways, he was a card-carrying advocate of tough love; or as
some refer to the approach today, loving tough.
Grandpa came up the hard way - the very hard way.
His mom and dad put him on the proverbial boat from
Italy to the United States when things were deteriorating
in Europe, just prior to WWII. He landed at Ellis Island,
like so many millions of other immigrants over history,
as a young teenager trying to carve out a life for himself
in a foreign land with little more than the clothes on his
back. There was no opportunity to finish a high school
education. Survival was the only thing on his mind.
Somehow, he forged a meager living and moved around
regularly to find warmth and a roof over his head. He
worked at just about anything and everything available,
regardless of the hours or how much it paid. The work
wasn't regular in those days, there were many, long
dry spells, but he kept moving forward with grit and
I remember at a tender age when he showed me the scar
from a gash in his side from working in a glass factory, and
he told the story of how he tried desperately to hide it from
his boss as it bled profusely because he thought he would
be fired for being incapacitated. Fortunately, he was given
care and kept on the job.
When working in the fields in Italy, a donkey kicked him
in the mouth and left a scar that ran from the bottom of his
lip to the tip of his nose. His father had to use the straw
from the field to stop the bleeding, as traditional stitches
were not an option in that environment in those days.
He eventually moved to Ohio, married, and owned
several different grocery stores over a period of time. His
mantra of " home, work, church, " deeming most other
things in life to be frivolous, always stuck with us. And
he put us to work at a very young age, helping both in
the grocery store and apartment building where we all
lived. He left us with many enlightening sayings, phrases,
thoughts, and other gems of wisdom before he passed
in the early '80s. My favorite is " calloused hands, bloody
knuckles, and a fire in your heart! "
In his own broken English, emboldened way, he taught
us the meaning of those impactful words very much like
this, though paraphrased for clarity:
" If you had no material possessions but the clothes on
your back, no formal education, or anyone to rely upon for
help and guidance, you could be very successful in life as
long as you have calloused hands, bloody knuckles, and a
fire in your heart! "
We would learn that these metaphors had special
meanings in grandpa's mind, stamped his way of life, and
he put them on display every single day.
Calloused Hands - Defines you as a worker, one who
pulls his load plus more. Always willing to do whatever it
takes to get things done, and to get them done the right
way - with pride and excellence. Remember what we said
about " putting your name on it " in a previous segment. If
you did it, you want to be proud enough to sign-off on it
before you present it as being finished.
Bloody Knuckles - Be a fighter! No, not necessarily in
literal terms, but in being a person who never gives-up.
Most of what is accomplished in life is done so with an
indomitable will and a never-say-die attitude.
Fire in your Heart - Be passionate about whatever it is
your doing! Your love for it should show, even when the
grind is starting to wear on you a bit. Passion will get you
through the tough times - and adversity is a given, not just
a possibility.
Grandpa didn't possess much at all when he stepped
on that boat during those perilous pre-WWII days. But he
certainly packed those three golden nuggets with him -
and they served him well.
Now, what about your athletes? They have the
opportunity to procure a great education. They have a
tremendous support system around them in all areas.
They have the whole world before them to go out and earn
whatever it is that they want from life. Do they really have
any excuses for not giving it their best shot? Remind them
of that!
Stay strong, stay in the fight, and keep making an

November/December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of November/December 2020

November/December 2020 - 1
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