“Grandpa, why do you have that old saw hanging above your fireplace?” Ethan asked. “It’s kind of old and rusty.”
“It’s a trophy,” Harry said.
“A trophy? For what? That doesn’t look like trophy I’ve ever seen. It just looks like an old saw like you have out in the barn. I don’t see any words on it about what place it was and what the competition was. Who gave it to you?”
“Well, Grandson,” Harry chuckled. “I gave it to myself.”
“You gave yourself a trophy?” Ethan was incredulous.
“Yep. My Daddy taught me to celebrate my success by giving myself my own trophies. He taught me not to wait on someone else to reward my successes, but to do it myself. So, through the years, I’ve learned to reward myself when I’m successful with some momento from that experience. It’s my way of remembering all the struggles I went through and how I finally accomplished the goal.”
“Wow, that’s a great idea! I have some trophies I got in biddy basketball,” Ethan said.
“Well, congratulations,” Harry said. “It feels good to win first place, doesn’t it?”
“Oh, we didn’t win anything,” Ethan explained. “We didn’t keep score and no one won or lost, but we all got a trophy.”
“Really?” Harry was puzzled. “They gave everyone a trophy but no one won or lost? I reckon I’ve never heard of that before. I guess I was just raised to where only trophies went to the person or team who won.”
“So why is that saw a trophy?” Ethan asked.
“Pretty simple, really,” Harry explained. “Gladys and I built this cabin all by ourselves and back in that day, I didn’t have a lot of fancy power tools so I just used hand tools. I used that saw a lot on this cabin and, when we finally moved in, we hung it up there as a trophy.”
“You built this whole cabin with hand tools? Wow! Wasn’t that a lot of hard work?”
“Of course it was,” Harry chuckled. “But hard work is good for the soul. Grandson, there’s nothing on earth that will make you feel better about yourself than hard work. There is no sleep as sweet as the kind that comes when you lay down after a hard day of work.”
“So what other kind of trophies do you have?” Ethan scanned the room, lookin for other unusual things.
“Well, let’s go see” Harry rose out of the old rocker. Chauncey, the golden lab curled in the corner, opened one eye then drifted back to sleep.
“Over here on this shelf is the Bible that belonged to Gladys,” Harry flipped through the well-worn pages. “We were married 60 years before she passed away and she read this to me every morning before breakfast and every night before bed. This book had a lot to do with us having a good marriage; it has a lot of wisdom in it.”
“I never thought about a book being a trophy,” Ethan. “What’s the in that little box there?”
“That’s a Purple Heart,” Harry said as he opened the box. “Gladys made me put it there but I kind of wanted to keep it out of the way somewhere. I got that in World Word Two.”
“Why did you get a Purple Heart and what is it?”
“Well,” Harry replied. “A Purple Heart is given to a soldier that is wounded in battle.”
“Really? You were wounded in a battle? I never knew that. Where?”
“I was in France at the time,” Harry said with tears pooling in the corner of his eyes. “A lot of my buddies were killed that day but I made it out alive. I got buggered up and was in the hospital for quite a while, but at least I’m alive.”
“Wow, Grandpa, I knew you were in the war but I never knew you were wounded.”
“It’s not something I like to talk about or anything I like to think about. How about we go out in the barn and look at another trophy.”
“Sure!” Ethan said, carefully placing the Purple Heart on the shelf. He clasped his hand in the old mans as they walked across the yard to the barn. Chauncey rose from his bed, stretched then fell in behind them.
“Grandpa, I was thinking about my trophies from biddy ball on my shelf at home and suddenly they don’t seem very important. I didn’t really do anything to earn them like you have yours. When they handed them out they told us that there were no winners and no losers.”
“No winners and losers?” Harry chuckled. “Grandson, life is all about winning and losing. Life is a battle. Life is a competition. Whether we like it or not, there are winners and there are losers. I’ve won a lot a lot of times and I’ve lost a lot of times, but I wake up every day knowing that life is going to give me a fight or two and, by golly, I’m gonna win. If I give up, I might was well just start planning my own funeral now. The tough part is determining which battle to fight and which one to walk away from.”
“So how do you choose which ones to fight and which ones to walk away from?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Most of its just paying attention to your gut. But there is one fight I’ll never walk away from and that is from a bully. I can’t stand bullies and its my opinion, after ninety years of living, that the only way to stop a bully is to punch them.”
They reached the barn and swung the door open wide. Since Ethan’s last visit, Harry had taken the old ’49 Ford Pickup into town for a paint job and a new sign. The old sign had read, “Withers and Son Trucking,” but the new sign on the shiny black pickup now read, “Withers and Grandson Trucking.”
Ethan shrieked in delight and ran to the truck, tracing the new lettering with his fingers. Harry had promised that one day that truck would belong to Ethan.
“Is this truck your best trophy, Grandpa Harry?” Ethan asked as he admired the new paint job.
“No, Grandson,” Harry replied. “I like that old truck and it means a lot to me, but you’re my best trophy. You are turning into a fine young man and giving this old man a reason to wake up in the morning again. You’ve given me courage to keep fighting the battle of life to stay alive. You’re the best trophy I could ever want. You are my reward.”
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