An Unimagined Success

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The “unimagined meaning” is a success that was not expected. The word can be used in many contexts, but the most common usage is when someone has an idea for something new, and it works out better than they could have imagined.

Marcus Brotherton contributed this guest article as an editor’s note. It first appeared on Men Who Lead Well (www.marcusbrotherton.com).

How many times have we wished for a certain kind of success just to be disappointed? We want to be an Olympic sprinter, a Nobel Prize-winning physician, or a great American novelist.

But no matter how hard we strive, the sort of success we want never materializes.

Sgt. Joe Toye, a founding member of the Band of Brothers, met this description. Toye was a bright athlete who excelled at both boxing and football. He was the hardscrabble son of an Irish coalminer. However, Toye’s father died while he was in seventh grade, forcing him to drop out of school, work, and help feed the rest of the family.

He’d never make it as a professional athlete. That dream was no longer alive.

When WWII broke out, Toye enlisted in the elite paratroopers and rose through the ranks to become a squad commander, a go-to organizer who always got things done. He aspired to a lengthy career in the military, and he fit the profile of the Army’s ideal candidate.

Toye was the first person on the list whenever the company commander sought a volunteer. Volunteering for these missions required extraordinary courage, but Toye never hesitated when he was summoned.

His crew was once stranded in ditches near Neunen, Holland. Their tank assistance from the United Kingdom was being decimated. The commander needed to learn more about his adversary. “Joe, I need a live prisoner,” he replied after looking around and saw Toye. Toye quietly left his platoon, sneaked into no-land, man’s and returned with a 107th Panzer Brigade prisoner.

Everything changed in Bastogne on a cold winter day. Toye was severely injured by a barrage of heavy bombardment. His leg was amputated below the knee after he was airlifted to a London hospital.

His military career had come to an end. Another dream had passed away.

Vintage army man missing his leg standing with young lady.

Life was never the same once Toye returned home. Toye was a warm-hearted family guy who struggled in life. He drank excessively. He fought back. He was plagued by wartime nightmares. He divorced and remarried many times. Because of his lost limb, he received some disability, but not enough to maintain a family. He got a job honing pieces in a steel mine, where he worked for almost 20 years until retiring.

Toye once told his kid that he didn’t feel like he had accomplished anything in his life. None of his fantasies had ever come true.

However, something unexpected happened along the road.

Jonathan, Toye’s youngest son, was born with a serious birth condition. The youngster had a mental disability and was unable to move, communicate, or feed himself. Toye was taken aback by the boy’s condition. Because a working family would be unable to care for the youngster on a daily basis, the boy was put in a special needs children’s home approximately an hour away from the Toyes’ house. Toye put out a valiant effort. He paid frequent visits to his son.

 

Toye’s disabled son became everything once he retired from the steel mill. Toye spent hours each day with Jonathan, feeding him, cleaning up after him, conversing with him, and telling him he was proud of him.

Toye’s life revolved on his son’s care.

Jonathan wasn’t expected to survive much beyond boyhood, but he was born with hardy blood. Years went by. Toye’s ambition eventually became merely to outlast his kid.

Jonathan died at the age of 32, three years longer than everyone expected.

Joe Toye passed away a year and a half after his son.

How bizarre it is that, despite our best efforts, we may never achieve our goals. Instead, life presents us with unexpected possibilities. These are opportunities for unimaginable grandeur. Windows for a happy life.

St. Paul of Tarsus remarked, “The aim of life is not to merely get by.” “We want to live well, but our first priority should be to assist others in doing so.”

I’d say Joe Toye was a huge success based on that criteria.