A case of the n’ts

“Can’t never could do anything.”

That is just one pearl of wisdom my grandfather would impart with a fair amount of regularity. During my gloriously dramatic “woe is me” can’t-don’t-won’t moments, (which certainly must have been infrequent despite my grandfather’s consistent adage…!) my grandfather would slowly look up from what he was doing and quietly say, “Can’t never could do anything.” He would pause, look straight into your core and finish with “You can do anything you set your mind to.”

When I was really, really little, I believed Can’t was someone in my grandparent’s neighborhood. A neighbor who also lived on Loretto Avenue in that small town situated on the banks of the Ohio River. A town in which front porches were scrubbed twice daily to keep up with the billowing, dirty, dusty smoke stacks of the nearby steel mills. The steel mills which employed most of the male citizens of this small town. A town which required grit and determination to eek out a living.

A replica of one of the patented steel milling machines by grandfather helped develop

A replica of one of the patented steel milling machines by grandfather helped develop

While Can’t is clearly not a person, it is a state-of-mind. A state of mind foreign to my grandfather. Armed with a 6th grade education, he would go on to invent machinery that was patented by his employer. He would make certain he was able to send his three daughters to college. He would cheer on his friends, neighbors and his family in endeavors big and small. My grandfather believed in grit and determination. My grandfather believed in the power of people to be and do anything.

Every now and again it’s absolutely acceptable to sit in those gloriously dramatic can’t-won’t-don’t moments. If you sit too long though, you’ll quickly be covered in the dust of the world’s on-the-go smoke stacks and require a good mopping to reveal the perfectly, perfect you who can be and do anything you set your mind to!

Hello Can! Welcome to the neighborhood!