I was about 6 years old and my brother 7, my grandad ‘Gus’ or ‘Gussy’ was about 80.
My grandad was maybe my best friend as a kid, crippled with arthritis he couldn’t catch me when I was naughty and he’d always have jobs for me like painting or wall-papering! He’d always have something for us to do unlike my mum who’s standards were so high even she couldn’t reach them.
I grew up on a small farm with poor land in an isolated rural village in a mountainous area called Ballinruan.
The local shop was about a mile from our house up an extremely steep hill. The post office was beside it and the church was nearby. That was it and nowaday’s it’s even worse with the post office shut and the church all but shut too!
Every Friday my grandad would get his pension from the post office. It was about IR£70.
One Friday afternoon he suggested that my brother and I walk to the post office to get it and buy him some things at the shops! As I mentioned, he was both smart and pragmatic and had a way of getting things done!
After an hour or more being coached on walking on the correct side of the road we were off! I wanted to go at all costs and my older brothers careless attitude annoyed me! I was made for adventure and time has proven that to be even more true!
And so every Friday this was our routine. Betty was the lady at the post-office. She’d count out that money like world peace depended on it’s accuracy!
“Twenty, forty, sixty, seventy…” before she’d start again!
I could have had a coffee in between counts!
They all liked me! They saw a mixture of life and mischief in my eyes and this little 7 year old Michael was as competent as a world leader at a UN sunmit!
It’s only as I look back I can see why it was funny!
Anyway, one day good old Betty told us that her cat had kittens and asked if we’d like to see them! I was so excited, my brother had no interest!
Excitedly we saw the kittens! Four black and white ones and one small ginger one like this one!
I had no interest in the black and white ones…boring….but the ginger one….yes please!
Next step was to ask my dad which involved asking my mum to ask my dad as he rarely spoke to me unless it was to chastise me for my recurrant bad behaviour!
She talked him around and that evening he drove me to the post office with a plastic bucket to bring the wild beast home!
John, Betty’s husband brought us out again to see the cats. He tried to tell us that the ginger one was not so big or strong and that maybe I should take another one! My dad, so practical minded was on his side!
Two adults against me!! Yet even at that age I was head strong. It was either ginger or nothing. I’d sooner have taken home a pet rat than those others!
My dad gave in. He had a gentle side too that occasionallt came out. He was over-worked and never had much of a childhood!
Ginger and I became best friends. Unlike my siblings, he was good fun and never got me into trouble!!
And so today I reflect back on it! Just as I had my eye on the ginger cat, the weak one, the different one, has God had His eye on me?!
And so reader! Today you might be the weirdo of your family! You may be the pink sheep or the white sheep or any other colour sheep! They may see you as no good and think you’ll never amount to anything…..and yet, God is smiling on you saying “You, I don’t choose them, I choose YOU”.
LOOK UP CHILD!