I was raised in a family of eight; two girls and six boys. Several of my older brothers were ruthless and proved themselves more like antagonists than collaborators. I used to think that I survived in spite of them, however of late, I have come to think that I have thrived because of them. They forced me, at a young age to acknowledge that my life was not going to be full of butterflies and rainbows!
My older sister Michele tells the story of a time when she had been left in charge of my trouble-making siblings. One day, while my mother either was either running errands or tending to a fellow parishioner in need, Shell was left in charge…which meant that she was in hot pursuit of her younger brothers even before our mom’s taillights were out of sight.
Shell was physically very fast, which meant that my brothers were forced to devise ingenious ways to avoid her grasp. Running out of gas that day, they both snuck under the half-opened garage door, slow enough that they intended for Michele to see them. One brother played possum while the other brother readied himself to spring the trap.
Shell took the bait and followed them, head first under the garage door. At that point, in an effort to delay her formidable pursuit, my brother let fall the heavy wooden door and it came to rest atop Michele’s head. The strategy worked and it left Michele lying near-lifeless…her body in the driveway and her head pinned to the garage floor.
For one of my brothers, inflicting pain was his go-to form of communication. He was a master at physically punishing anyone who crossed him. When he was a high-school wrestler, I felt I should warn whoever he was about to beat that they should run for it while they could, while their body was still intact.
The “fight or perish” firmament that his approach demanded was an element of the crucible in which our family’s character was formed.
Later in life, Michele came into her own professionally. She became a very successful commercial realtor and thrived in an environment dominated by men. Once, in an interview she referred to the time when she found herself knocked-out cold by the garage door. While unable to appreciate it at the time, her visit to my brother’s “hurt-locker” had prepared her, in some measure for her eventual corporate success.
What about the rest of us? We may not have had our heads smooshed in between asphalt and a garage door, but agony, distress and heartbreak take numerous forms.
- Enduring a meaningless job
- Coping with chronic pain
- Losing a precious loved one to an incurable disease
- Vilified at work for values or beliefs
- Abandonment by friends
- Dwindling feelings for a spouse
Regardless of your challenge(s,) keep swinging! We never know what we are being prepared for while in the midst of life’s grueling moments. It’s important to trust that we are being molded for something more than we can imagine in the moment. Learning that matters is rarely romantic or suitable for a made-for television movie.
When we surrender to the lesson we’re offered, then we have a good chance of progressing to the other-side, ennobled and fortified for what lies ahead. Something life-changing invariably awaits us on the other side of every garage door.
Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying…. cause you are!