Thursday, March 14, 2019

Steel-Eye McGinty and the Fight for Creativity

Greetings and well-wishes to you all, my dear Internet friends and neighbors, precious family, and especially all those patient authors who are waiting for a review.

It has been a week since I last made a post here, and much, much longer than that since I have been able to read to any good purpose, specifically with respect to writing a review.
It is not from a lack of appropriate material; I have (at least) 10 books in my TBR&R queue, and my perception, based on the authors, titles, and covers, is that these are books I will VASTLY enjoy. And some of those authors are important to me!
Behold, I shall conceal nothing from you: the last several weeks have been a challenge.

Not all is my story to tell. I have related a bit of the Georgia Monsoon of 2019 Septic Tank Disaster in my last post.
I have NOT mentioned the new, different, agonizing, sharp, stabbing, localized, intermittent, and migratory back pain I have been experiencing for the past six weeks. (More on that in a later post!)
And I don't recall if I have included a statement about the simultaneous failures-to-function-correctly status of our refrigerator, followed by the dryer and washing machine (those last two in the same day).
If those were not occurring in MY house, they would be brief, transitory, insignificant events, compared to what some of my dear ones are facing.
All of them, though, have contributed in some way to my inability to read.

If there is a virus that causes Writer's Block, then perhaps Reader's Block is a mutation.  And perhaps inspiring a burst of creativity will help.
With that in mind, I will relate to you one of the famous McGinty stories, composed a couple of decades ago for the Young Moose, now 27 years of age.
The Young Moose, 1996

Once upon a time there was a man called Steel-Eye McGinty. That wasn't his real name; his real name was Henry McGinty, but nobody called him that. He had lots of brothers and uncles and cousins, such as Gordon and James and Howard and Cecil, but nobody called them by those names. Everybody called them Tweety-Bird McGinty and Iron Pants McGinty and Crow Bar McGinty and Tow-Truck McGinty. Everybody, that is, except for their grandmother. She said all those names were a bunch of foolishness. She wasn't a McGinty; she was a McGillicuddy.

Henry McGinty got his name this way: He was not very smart, and not very strong, but he was as sweet as the day was long and he was the best mechanic and driver anyone had ever seen. He was hired by the mayor, and he took care of the trucks and buses and cars for the town, and he drove the mayor wherever he needed to go. He always took the best way (this was before the days of global satellites and traffic reports), and he got the mayor where he needed to go, on time and safely. The mayor had to go a LOT of places, because being the mayor, he had to promote the town's syrup factory, and he had to go see people all across the state to arrange to buy sugar cane and sell syrup. Everybody liked the mayor, because he took good care of their jobs, and he always had time to talk to anybody.

The mayor liked to talk. On the long trips across the state, he talked a lot with Henry (this was before cell phones; today, he probably would have been talking business with other people), about life, the universe, and everything. Henry liked those talks; they gave him a lot to think about, and the mayor was always interested in hearing what Henry had to say.

Henry especially like the way that the mayor helped people. He liked fixing the trucks and buses and cars, and he really liked driving the mayor, but he began thinking that he wanted to help people, too. He and the mayor used to talk about that on those trips. The mayor told Henry that he WAS helping people, because without Henry, he wouldn't be able to go visit farmers to buy sugar cane, and then the syrup factory would be hurt. Henry understood that, but he wanted to do more. But Henry knew he wasn't very smart, and he wasn't very strong, and he didn't make much money. What he really wanted to do was to go to other places, poor places, where farmers couldn't grow sugar cane because they didn't have enough water, and help them. He just didn't know how to do that.

His uncle Fill-up McGinty told Henry to just Do The Next Right Thing. Henry said he didn't know what the Next Right Thing was, and Fill-Up told him to Fully Rely On God (Fill-Up was a part-time preacher, but a very nice person anyway). Fill-Up told him some other things, too, but Do The Next Right Thing and Fully Rely On God were the things Henry remembered. For a while, he thought he should be a missionary to China, but Uncle Fill-Up explained that he didn't have to do that, and it was probably a bad idea anyway.

So, Henry and the mayor kept travelling, and they talked about syrup and the sugar cane crop, and water for irrigation,  The mayor was interested in Henry's plans to help people, and he told Henry that he thought Uncle Fill-Up was right. They were talking about ways in which Henry could know what the Next Right Thing was, headed east on US Hwy 82, when the chains on a log truck coming toward them broke, and dumped it's load in front of their car. Henry had just the barest moment to see it coming, and the last thing he saw was a log coming through the windshield.

Later, Henry found out that he had managed to steer the car just enough to the right that the log didn't kill him or the mayor. The mayor, in fact, didn't have a scratch on him, but Henry lost his left eye. The State Patrol had called in a medevac helicopter, and he was in the Trauma Center in Macon fast enough that they were able to save his life, but glass and pine splinters had damaged his eye so bad it had to be removed. He had a concussion , and a deep cut to his left arm (the mayor had used his belt to make a tourniquet to keep him from bleeding out), but they expected him to recover fully, except he would meed a prosthetic eye, and he needed some physical therapy for his left arm and hand..

When he was well enough to understand, they explained to him that he had a big insurance settlement coming, and that all his medical expenses were covered. That included $8,500 for an ocularist to make him a prosthetic eye that would be so real that no one could tell the difference. It would move just like his good right eye. The Georgia Eye Institute in Savannah would take care of everything.

And that's when Henry told them "No!"

He found out he would still be able to drive, once he learned how to adjust for depth perception, and he could still be a mechanic. He told them that he was going to Fully Rely On God, and Do The Next Right Thing, and he wanted to give the money to an irrigation project in South Sudan to help them grow sugar cane. He wouldn't change his mind, and after talking with him, the mayor and his family all gave him their support. The money went to the South Sudan, Education and Peace Building project, as a Designated Gift.

Since he refused to buy the prosthetic eye, he tried wearing an eye patch. He thought that made him look too much like a pirate, though. His physical therapist was having him playing with ball bearings to help his hand, and he decided to see if one of those would fit his eye socket. It did, perfectly! He also had to do some painting, to help his fine motor control, and he tried painting different designs on the ball bearing so it wouldn't look like he had Terminator eyes. At first, his art was pretty bad, and it never got REALLY great, but the kids liked it when they saw his new designs, and they started calling him Steel-Eye.

Steel-Eye remains happy with his choice. He has the internet now, and he is able to check up on the status of the sugar cane project. It is going well.
Kenana Sugar Cane

Although he does not seek publicity, his story has inspired many others. He has even had a hymn written about him, and although he says he can't sing a lick, he is often heard to be humming the tune.

Steel-Eye will trust Him
Steel-Eye will follow
Steel-Eye will listen to His every call
When the storm rages on
And he  can't find his way
Steel-Eye will trust you, Lord
So, now nobody calls him Henry; everybody calls him Steel-Eye. Everybody, that is, except for his grandmother. She thinks these nicknames are a load of foolishness. She's not a McGinty; she's a McGillicuddy.

And...that's the end of that.
Sure, it's a long story for the punch line, but I was almost there already from choir practice, and from telling Young Moose the McGinty stories, so I just went with it. If you'd like to hear the REAL words, click here.

I'm hoping this will jump-start my creativity, and I can start reading and reviewing again. If not, perhaps it will serve to amuse. And, if I can bring a smile to faces, then I smile as well.

Peace be on your household.

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