Tackling the thing…

For several weeks now (yet it seems like months), I’ve been happily sorting documents and photos and all manner of personal papers in my late father-in-law’s office, trying to bring his files into some sort of order. He led such an incredibly rich life — a rare gem with more facets than I can truly comprehend! Some of C. Fred Rydholm’s “roles” included wilderness guide, woodsman, father, councilman, mayor, historian, published author, storyteller and beloved teacher… and all this living culminated in an office stuffed with documents of every type, spilling from torn paper grocery sacks and banana boxes, arranged in layers resembling sedimentary rock. I feel I am on an archeological dig now, working with a feather brush and a tiny trowel. Every so often, I have come across a scrap of paper on which he typed a favorite verse or quotation — this puzzled me, since he was known for reciting them from memory. My husband suggests that he used these when (frequently) he was asked to speak or make remarks at various meetings and civic organizations. Discussing this tonight, I was reminded of an old poem he really loved, which he recited from memory this past winter, even as cancer was draining his energy.  I can still hear his voice as I read the poem:

Tackle The Thing
– Edgar A. Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he tried.
So he buckled right in with a trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one has ever done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

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