My dad is the one who I first heard quote that silly Sci Fi movie, Galaxy Quest. He would pop off around the house with, “never give up, never surrender!” When my last long term girlfriend and I were first getting to know each other, I found out she was a GQ fan. I felt right at home. It would seem, however, that we came from opposite sides of the universe when it comes to our understanding of “surrender”.
My father wasn’t much of a “dad” to me in the traditional sense. We never played ball, he didn’t attend any of the my extracurricular activities, etc. If it wasn’t for my brothers, I might not have learned to ride a bike. When it finally came time for the birds and the bees conversation, dad seemed really nervous about it. The memory still makes me laugh a bit.
However, my old man was an amazing father. As a provider and a protector, he took care of his family. He was doing really well for himself in the 80s and decided to go into business for himself. Some bad timing and the total collapse of the oil industry put him into severe debt. My father never took the self pity path, he just got to work. Before he started his own company, he was already the fancy exec as well as company pilot. After his own company failed, the next job he landed was as a fuel truck driver. He worked hard, very hard, to rebuild his career and take care of his family. He took his trashed credit rating, bruised ego, and worked his way to a point where he and my mother are now retired to a beach front home in Mexico.
My dad is a hero to me in this way. It was only more recently that I realized what a hero my mother is as well. I do remember them fighting a bit during the hard times, but they saw it all through. My father grew up without a father, he had no real role model. He left home when he was 16 to escape his abusive mother. To put it lightly, my father wasn’t always the best at being sensitive. Still, through feast and famine, my mother stuck by his side. I know she struggled at times. She went from fancy diamond rings to raising chickens in the back yard so we could survive off of eggs. She could have left, she could have looked for another man. She didn’t, she just jumped in and got her hands dirty too. They’re approaching 40 years of marriage together now.
Everyone likes to talk about what a problem attachment can be. Sure, you could say that my parents are very codependent. (Don’t tell my father that, he won’t like it much.) On the flip side, if you were witness to my life growing up, you could find many brilliant examples of how powerful a dedicated couple can be. My family built the home we lived in through my high school years. My parents lived in that home for over 15 years. We built that home from scratch, all by ourselves. To be completely fair, an extended family member was involved. My mother’s brother Tommy built and installed our kitchen cabinets.
Through thick and thin, my parents never gave up, they never surrendered. I took their bond for granted. I am now 34 years old and am taking on life independently. At least this time I am fortunate in that I’m sharing a living situation with some amazing house mates who feel like family. Maybe there’s a lesson here I have yet to learn before I’ll be ready to meet my own life long partner…