Grit

We Go On! 

George Trautwein, former choir conductor at Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook, NY 

Today’s post was to be about the wonderful falls we saw while visiting Brevard, NC. As we approached the town, however, the sky darkened, rain began to fall and our plans had to change.

As a boy, disappointment was hard for me to bear, but I credit my mother and George Trautwein for pointing the way to something called grit. These two people knew troubles and they were always, always able to move forward despite setbacks.

When I entered the workforce at age 15, I was a helluva busboy. I didn’t particularly like the work of setting up a dining room or cleaning up after an event was through, but I found my grit there. My friends, Bill, Michael, Burt, and Steve used to work 15 hour days. I recall lifting huge trays of water glasses at the end of the lobster night and then setting up for an event for the following morning. We rolled huge tables in and out of the room with men in their 20s. When done, someone – – usually one of our mothers – would pick us up at 2am. I can’t say that I was always happy doing this backbreaking work, but I did it. And our mothers did it, too!

My mom gave me the opportunity to learn to work hard, to persevere and build grit. She did it by example when my dad left us and refused to participate in our finances. My mom retrained herself and eventually became a Vice President for International Sales at a thriving company. And while she was doing that, I learned to take care of the lawn in the summer, the snow in the winter and cook food for my brother, Craig, and I. These lessons served me well as a parent, for sure! Truthfully, though, I was still not at the place where work was pleasurable.

George Trautwein became a fill-in dad for me and, I’m guessing, many other young people who lost a father to divorce or death. He was famous for his devotion to high-quality musicianship and his unwavering need for us to be on-time, prepared, and ready to work when the downbeat was imminent. And when we traveled to Rome, Italy and all of us wanted to sleep in, he reminded us that we could sleep when we got back home. “We go on!”That was his refrain when trouble or weather or anything else stood in our way.

So, when the rain came yesterday, we pivoted. We took a long, leisurely drive through the mountain roads and enjoyed our conversations in the car. The day passed with ease and we ended it with a tasty Mexican dinner in Seneca, SC. And when Brad had to get up and go out and pee this morning at 2:30am, I reminded myself that I have made it through many nights like these, many situations where conditions were not ideal and now – FINALLY – I find I can do it with a smile.

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