Before I retire for the night, I take for granted that I’ll wake up in the morning and go about my ordinary life—my sleeping, eating, working, and walking-around-life.

But today, I’m reminded of my mortality.

The First Reason

A neighbor and friend, Orville Hughes, passed away on Sunday morning (God granted him 95 years on this earth).

Seven years ago, he was the first neighbor to rap his knuckles on our farmhouse screen door.

After gingerly opening the door, I thought, I’m definitely in farm country.

The elderly farmer pressed his thumbs into the back of his denim overalls. “Welcome to the neighborhood,” he said.

My hubby and I will always remember Orville as the neighbor, farmer, and the friend who showed love with his simple act of kindness.

The Second Reason

Shortly after 8:00 a.m., on a frigid February 2nd morning in 1945, sixteen miners stepped into a lift cage.

With helmet beams lit, they began their descent into the pit of darkness—just another ordinary day to dig for gold in muck and clay.

My grandfather, Eero Kohtala, is in the middle.

My grandfather, Eero Kohtala, is in the middle.

The cage was outfitted with an emergency stop system called “dogs”. The “dogs” job was to grip the timbers on the sides of the shaft should the cables ever break.


The “dogs” malfunctioned, sending the cage to plummet 1,500 feet. My grandfather and fifteen other miners lost their lives that day.

An earlier photo of The Paymaster Mine Site taken in 1938. My grandfather is in the second row, fourth from the right.

An earlier photo of The Paymaster Mine Site taken in 1938. My grandfather is in the second row, fourth from the right.

The Paymaster Mine Tragedy was reported to be the greatest mining disaster in Northern Ontario, Canada.

Today is the 71st anniversary of my maternal grandfather’s death—a grandfather I never got to hug. And my mom was only seven-years-old when he died.

All that remains are newspaper clippings, family stories, and the book I compiled and wrote for my mom for Mother’s Day, May 11th, 2014—The Kohtala & Hakala Legacy.

Here’s one of those entries. (Sorry, this WordPress site wouldn’t allow me to insert lines between each stanza).


Tracy Campbell

Down, down, down,

Men toil all day,

Dig for gold

In muck and clay.

Down, down, down,

No time for play,

Miners sweat

For meager pay.

Down, down, down,

Write on this page—

Sixteen miners

Step in a cage.

Down, down, down,

Men, weary worn,

Cage door creaks

One frigid morn.

Down, down, down,

Torn cables snap,

Gloomy thoughts,

We’re in a trap! 

Down, down, down,

Lift cage drops,

Plummets fast,

Blasting stops.

Down, down, down,

Shriek, old and young,

“Help us!” heard

In mother tongue.

Down, down, down,

Torches lit,

Crowbars bend,

Friends don’t quit.

Down, down, down,

No helmet beams,

Loss of breath,

Ends miners’ dreams.

Up, up, up,

Prayers of strife,

Mother, child,

Plead for life.

Up, up, up,

Sirens blare,

Bodies rise to

Greet despair.

Up, up, up,

God knew why,

Eased each painful,

Desperate cry.

Up, up, up,

Cast in bronze,

Miners’ shrine

Gleams like dawn.

Down, down, down,

Tears freely flow,

Lives endure,

As memories glow.

Porcupine Miners Memorial

Porcupine Miners Memorial

The ten-foot bronze statue was erected in 2008 in remembrance of miners who lost their lives over the past 100 years.

The inscription reads:

A…memorial to those who died

A…monument to the families who survived

A…tribute to those who continue.

Before typing this post, I read the following verse in my trusty guidebook—a reminder for me to thank God for each new day.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” Romans 12:1, MSG

Do you embrace each day like there’s no tomorrow?




P.S. Send a card or give a gift to those you love. Visit My Whimsical Shop for ideas.

DO YOU TAKE YOUR LIFE FOR GRANTED? first appeared on Tracy Campbell’s blog.

24 Responses

    • It sure is a sad story, Catherine. My Nana, my mother and her brothers had an extremely difficult life. Even I can’t imagine how horrible this was. Working in a mine is no life. My paternal grandfather got silicious from gold mining and he died when I was three. Thank you for the blessings for your previous neighbor. 🙂

  1. Wow. Thanks for sharing, Tracy. What a meaningful poem for your family! I’m sorry for your family’s loss and the others as well. Those tragedies do remind us that our breath here on earth is so temporal and each day a gift. It gets us out of the narrow focus of our circumstances and help us remember a bigger picture – and eternal, God is more than us perspective. Thank you. Blessings to you, my friend.

    • My mother really appreciated the poem. I went to visit her today and my dad, and she’s not online so my dad printed out my blog post and it touched her. That made my day. Thanks for the visit, Laura. 🙂

  2. You really don’t know how long you have. Each day is a gift, so you have to make the most of it.

    I really like your poem! It’s creative that you made it look like a long hole going down.
    Sherry Ellis recently posted..Wake Up CallMy Profile

    • You’re so right, Sherry. Each day is a gift. Glad you liked the poem and the “long hole going down”. That wasn’t intentional, but now that you mention it, I’ll go with that. 🙂

  3. Oh, Tracy, what a poignant tribute. I am so sorry you lost your grandfather, and your mother lost her father. Such a lost, but your heartfelt personal comments and wonderful poem are touching reminders to us all that life is fragile and precious. Bless you and your family.
    Marylin Warner recently posted..BEST INTENTIONSMy Profile

    • It’s always so nice when you pop in for a visit. Oh yes, life is so very fragile. I read a blog post last night about an author whose husband passed away as he sat sipping coffee. So very sad.

  4. Tracy, how sad about your grandfather and your mother’s loss at such a young age. What a story too! your poem, written in short sentences stacked like that is a clever way to indicate the mining shafts down down down. Well done!

    I am reminded here of just how many kids lose their parents when far too young, or vice versa, parents losing their precious young children. I’m reminded of Columbine and other tragic shootings or the horror in Nigeria with Boko Haram’s evil atrocities. My mother, now 85, still gets sad at times thinking of her closest sibling, her brother Thomas who died at 14 from polio when she was about 4 years older. So sad. One always wonders in situations like this what would of become of them all had no such loss ever happened. Life is indeed, among many things, certainly about loss and giving up too, isn’t it?

    Often I am humbled when I think of the brave adults out there who put their lives at risk simply to provide for their families (especially back then) and then of course the ones who also do it in defense of freedom and our shared values, etc. Every week, I think of the enormous cost my daughter’s husband pays and as a result they all do with his three lost limbs and all the others things still affecting him today. People such as these seriously humble me. THEY should be the ones paid the most– NOT mere athletes playing a game, throwing around a ball for fun or playing pretend and getting paid more than entire countries annual GDP. What an upside down world we live in. Truly…the love of money!

    Anyway, yes, i would say EVERY day I think of how I have another day to live. I NEVER take it for granted. Every day I thank God not jsut for my life that day, but my job, and lift up my wife and kids’ safety as that too is never assured. It does make life more meaningful though when we fully stop to contemplate jsut how fragile our lives really are. One simply reckless driver can horrendously change our course and others for the rest of our lives here on earth. Sobering indeed.
    Michael recently posted..BOXES of CHOCOLATESMy Profile

    • Oh my goodness, Michael, I forgot to comment on your detailed comments. You don’t know how much I appreciate you taking the time to share. Your family has gone through so much suffering. I can’t imagine your daughter’s husband’s anguish having lost three limbs. I’m sure your positive attitude and love of God help to ease the pain. Thank you always for supporting the Creative Tuesday gang. 🙂

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this story…it moved my heart,Tracy. And your poem is absolutely lovely…I’m glad there is a memorial…I’m glad your family has some of these precious photos and other documents to keep safe. But the memory of those we love lives forever in our hearts…your grandfather is very much a part of you and your life. 😉

  6. Oh wow. Tracy, I am so sorry. To die like that and so young. Someday soon you will finally get that hug. Your tribute is so lovely. I wish I could give you a squeeze. The poem you wrote is beautiful. It shows your heart. Those are the best kind. Your post has humbled me. We never know when our last moment will be. That’s why we must be sure of our eternal destinies. I know you are. As am I. Remember that soon you will meet him. And think of all the laughter you two will have. Thanks, Cuz. 🙂

    • Awe, Robyn. I can feel the squeeze from here. Oh, yes, it’s so important to know where our eternal destiny lies … in the arms of Jesus. And you are a gifted poet, Robyn. 🙂