As a ten-year-old boy, being told that I threw a ball like a girl was the ultimate insult. Adolescents can be cruel with their verbal barbs. For a young pubescent male, doing anything “like a girl” was akin to being called a sissy.
But today, a phrase like “Fight Like A Girl” carries a new meaning — a profound one.
Visiting my favorite local landscaping business (Stovall’s here in Augusta), I noticed each of the employees wearing pink shirts inscribed with Breast Cancer Awareness slogans. Outside they had a large sign reminding one and all that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and that we should all “Fight Like A Girl.”
It’s a reminder I did not need.
Breast cancer awareness is something I live with daily. I lost my first wife, Tootie, to breast cancer in 2011. My wife, Patrice, is a breast cancer survivor. Two of my daughters, having tested positive for the BRCA gene, opted to have preemptive mastectomies to minimize their risk of that which killed their mother.
Oh yes, I am aware. I dream in pink.
Witnessing the battles the women in my life have fought makes me keenly aware that the most courageous people I know are feminine. When the need arises for a woman to be a warrior, she takes a stand and fights. Whether it be to defend her children, speak out in the face of discrimination, or fight the Big C, she is fearless. Her eyes may be full of tears, but her heart overflows with determination.
Using a shield of faith, arrows of encouraging words, and an arsenal of positive strength, she faces her battles daily.
In a story that may seem oddly out of context, it was my daughters, as they matured into womanhood, that helped their dad appreciate what it truly means to fight like a girl.
My two oldest children are men, and I relished their sports activities in high school. Friday night high school football games were fun times. As a father of three younger daughters, I had limited expectations that their teen years would provide similar competitive experiences. Was I ever wrong!
I remember when one daughter pursued a spot on a song and dance team. A dislocated kneecap almost ruined her opportunity, but she persevered to stay on the team. Another daughter was an integral member of a competitive cheerleading squad despite having recently fought through the after-effects of a coma-induced electrolyte imbalance. That experience eventually motivated her into a career path in Nutrition and Dietetics. I vividly recall when another of my daughters, twelve at the time and playing left field on a traveling softball team, caught a fly ball and then threw a strike to home plate to nail a sliding runner who had tagged from third base. Thrilling!
Cheerleading competitions, traveling Flag Corps tournaments, Song and Dance performances, and fast-pitch softball games proved to be just as exciting, if not more so, than my sons’ football games. I saw my daughters mature emotionally and physically into athletes who prided themselves in being the best they could be. Shame on me for not seeing that sooner. The determination I witnessed in their teen years only hinted at the kind of women they would be twenty plus years later.
I am not ten years old anymore. Now, as a near seventy-year-old, should someone ever accuse me of “fighting like a girl,” I’ll smile, and be grateful for such an accolade, knowing I have just been given one of the finest compliments a man could ever receive.
Note: Thanks to Sarah Cervantes at Unsplash.com for the photo