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Thursday, July 18, 2013
Need a Little Inspiration...?
Many people think the hardest part of anything is finishing. Not true. Most people never get started.
What is also true, is that the second place most plans fall apart is when they face adversity or failure. Usually this is not an issue of the plan itself, but rather the determination of the person trying to implement the plan. Things rarely go the way we want in life. It is easy to be battered into a sort of incremental submission.
Personally, I think that happens to an awful lot of people. Most kids I grew up with, and most I meet today have big dreams, big plans for their future. But somewhere along the line, they get the fight beaten out of them. It could be a parent who tells them to get “their head out of the clouds”, or it might be friends who, while well intentioned, don't want to see you leave them behind. Even for those with the courage and resolve to overcome the “battle” with family and friends, get ground down by circumstances, and one too many failed attempts at their dream. Eventually, they get so “worn down” that success looks like paying the bills and hanging onto the job they hate.
But that isn't always how the story ends.
In April 1961, I arrived, at least in breathing form, here on our lovely planet. Unlike many people, there were much more than two people involved in my continued existence. My biological parents, who put me up for adoption, my parents who three short months after I was born took care of me as their own, and the nuns of Our Lady of Victory, who though I don't remember them, handled the three month gap. Given my lack of self-sufficiency at that point, I thank them all for getting me started.
One of my mom's favorite stories was about the ride home from the orphanage to their home in Akron. Mom had on a pearl necklace which apparently I fiddled with constantly. She always mentioned that, as well as the fact that I laughed quite a lot. That latter part hasn't changed much over the years.
You may wonder, well this is all a little interesting, but not really what I showed up for Tim.
The back story to my adoption is a tale of remarkable determination and grit.
You see, my adoptive mother could not have children. Now that, is not, in and of itself, especially unique. Many people adopt children for the very same reason. But my mom found out about her inability to have children the hard way.
My mom was pregnant four times before she tried adoption. All four were either stillborn or died shortly after being born. That alone would have put most people in a mind to forget the whole idea. Not my parents. Her and my father looked into adopting at a local agency. If they could not have their own, they would adopt a child.
Of immediate concern to the authorities was why this woman, my mother, was unable to have children. They came to the determination that, after a few tests, she had a blood disease or abnormality (later learned to be Lupus). Upon reaching that conclusion, they decided to reject my parents application to adopt as my mother was seen as “high risk”. OK, this is about time to say, well, maybe we can get a dog, or a couple of them even. Not my mother.
Afterward they had a lengthy chat with their family physician. He was aware that my mom had something wrong with her blood. But he nonetheless suggested they conduct another blood test, just in case they'd missed something. He took my mother's blood and sent her and my father home.
In the meantime he did something which can only be described as beautiful, reckless and amazing. He also took his wife's blood, and sent it for testing in lieu of my mother's which he knew would never pass testing. His wife's blood was fine. But since it was submitted with my mother's name, she was now “fit” to be an adoptive mother. At least according to her blood.
Fearing being called out locally, they headed to another adoption center they had heard about. There they found a receptive audience who agreed to put them on the list. In those days it was a list you actually were likely make it through, as adoption was not nearly as widespread as it is today. Their name accepted, they headed back to Akron to wait.
In what I have to guess was late June or early July of 1961, they got a call that the adoption center had a baby available. They were warned, that the child had “large eyes”. Undaunted they made the trek to the center and had a look at the “Big Eyed Baby”, and yes that was me.
We never chatted about it, but apparently I was insufficiently “Big-Eyed” to prevent them from saying “sure, we'll take that one”. A couple of weeks later in mid-July, they once again made the journey from Akron to the adoption center. This time they had something to take home. That being me. Yahoo!
That was incredibly lucky for me! If they had not gone through all those trials and tribulations, I might have ended up virtually anywhere. Instead I had an incredible set of parents who, in spite of my efforts to the contrary at times, managed to turn me into something resembling a normal human being. And apparently I sort of “grew into” my eyes.
Thus, in part, as with most success stories, a big part of mine was a matter of incredible timing, luck, and maybe even “big eyes”. But the absolutely biggest part of what got me into a position to succeed was my mother and father's determination to just keep looking. If they had given up, I may never have been afforded the opportunities which came to me later in life. In addition, that attitude of determination was infectious. Obviously not inherited genetically, I developed a tenacity that has yet to leave me.
The quotes, the one liners, all the cliches about “staying the course”, well they are true. Occasionally someone gets remarkably lucky, but more often, failure is the road you will be driving on far longer than you want, if you hope to succeed. Now, you better be adapting along the way, and learning from that failure, otherwise you’re not a failure, you're a fool.
Failure is the road you will travel to success. Just be sure to take the correct exit. If you have trouble finding it?