At a very late hour I realized today would have been dad’s name day, St. Constantine. And I smiled thinking how he would have laughed at me for cheating (of course I still don’t have a list of saint days, only saw a reminder on Facebook in a post via a childhood friend)…how he would have loved Facebook and my post on his behalf.
It so happens that we talked about dad at dinner. I was telling the boys about my first ‘real’ driving experience. Dad and I went to visit some friends of his years ago, and when we left, he casually handed me the car keys. I froze with fear and excitement. I must have mumbled something about there being a highway involved somewhere in between where we were and where I lived. Perhaps two highways and even a bridge! I had only driven around short distances until then. But dad had made up his mind. I was driving because I could do it. I had been practicing for long enough, I was careful, and it was time to upgrade.
I wanted to stop the car a few times that evening. But dad wouldn’t hear of it. Just as he wouldn’t hear of me giving up on math problems as a child, or have patience for any of my serious complaints about life challenges. I wrote about all this before…how at the time, I thought this idea of not giving up in so many instances was stupid, unrealistic and dad’s way of torturing me with insensitivity.
But tonight I was reminded again of how despite our difficult relationship, dad and I did connect, and he left me with lessons in courage, which I didn’t appreciate at the time but do so now. I can’t describe the gratitude and joy of walking through life as if through a maze and finding, in the darkest corners, little unopened gifts of light that dad left for me so long ago.
The reminder was a very emotional and disturbing documentary about abandoned children…’hopeless cases’, betrayed by ignorance and bureaucracy. Although I know that early childhood trauma is one hell of beast to tame, and that there are very real and challenging conditions that interfere with development and functioning, I also believe there is no such thing as a ‘hopeless case’…ever.
Guess where I got that idea?
Actually both my parents are to blame, but especially dad. Mom is very strong and determined…but she is no match for the stubbornness dad and I share. I inherited that, and the fundamental, limitless optimism he always had when it came to his profession. He saved and improved many lives because of that optimism, because he didn’t see giving up as an option when others did.
So tonight, because it is his name day, and because I came across that terrible concept of ‘hopeless cases’, I just want to say simply that wherever we may be and whatever our challenges, we can never, ever give up in life on the things that matter…on ourselves, on those we truly love. In our own ways, we are all strong, capable, inspired, gifted and beautiful. Situations and people can bring us to our knees and break us sometimes. But they can not take our stubbornness and choice to trust that we can get up…stand up…broken, bruised, whatever the case…stand up and keep going.
All we have to do is take one look at the world around us to become overwhelmed by the terrible things that go on. Sometimes, terrible things happen in our own lives and they seem insurmountable. And yet, little by little, step by step, people get up every single day and keep going. We can all can do something to change things for the better, to change ourselves for the better, to make a difference. Small steps and changes turn into big ones, and before we know it, what before looked impossible was just accomplished. There is always a way, even if the path gets steep, even if everyone around says “no” and the voice in our own head says “no”. There is always a way.
Here is a video I’d like to share…a man’s victory…one more ‘lost cause’ not lost at all. Stay stubborn…and never give up.