Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Garage door revelation reveals fine line separates giving up, giving in, letting go

Some 40 years ago, my husband and I faced a good share of adversity. In the years leading up to our marriage in 1972, Brian’s mother died of cancer at the age of 47. Two years and one month later, his father died of a massive heart attack just weeks after turning 50.

Somewhere in between, his grandfather died.

We were young and probably in shock over so much loss in such a short span. Even so, we stayed with our plans to marry and move from our hometown of Jamestown, N.Y., to Iowa.

The day after we said, "I do," we loaded up the 1971 bumblebee yellow Chevy Vega station wagon with all of our belongings, including Brian’s childhood beagle "Princy," and headed down that long road to Iowa. Brian was finishing his undergraduate degree at Wartburg College in Waverly. We did not have jobs or a place to live.

Then, a few months after we were married his grandmother passed on.

We were sad but not defeated by our losses. We had hope, love, and each other, which seemed to suffice our every need.

Now, 37 years later, it came as somewhat of a surprise when Brian suggested that we cancel our annual vacation Out West after our automatic garage door closed on the very tip of the bumper of our car.

I had backed the car into the garage but, as I quickly learned by a loud grinding, crunching sound, I did not back it far enough to clear the door.

"Well, do you think we should go on vacation tomorrow?" Brian questioned while wrestling with the slightly mangled garage door.

"Why wouldn’t we?" I asked back.

"For a lot of reasons," he replied.

"What reasons?" I persisted, not wanting to let go of our treasured time away.

"This is a heck of a way to start a vacation," Brian debated, with a subtle tone of exhaustion.

"Yes," I reluctantly agreed, "But why would we let something like this stop us from doing what we love to do?"

Brian was silent while continuing to work on the door.

"Whether we stay or go, what difference will it make?" I added, pushing my perspective even further. "What happened to the garage door is past tense. It’s not still happening to us."

As the evening wore on and after Brian and I repaired the door, we talked it over some more; then decided to continue as planned, packed the car and left on vacation early the next morning.

On our long drive westward, I pondered what had changed. Over the years, we have shifted from possessing blind faith to being easily discouraged.

"Why so?" I asked Brian.

"You just get tired," he answered.

"Do you give up," I asked, not liking his answer.

"You just give in," he replied.

"So do you let go," I puzzled, not backing down.

"Sort of," he slightly agreed.

"What’s the difference between giving up, giving in and letting go?" I quizzed forlornly, resisting his side of the matter.

"Not a lot. You either accept your circumstances, quit trying to change them or you just get tired," Brian sighed. "Either way, you back down."

I kept quiet, holding tightly to the memory of our free-spirited start, not wanting to have anything to do with his reality.

"It’s really about not allowing adversity stop us, isn’t it?" I entreated with a sense of loss. "Isn’t it?"

2009 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took three first-place awards. To contact Paula, email pauladamon@iw.net, blog with her at http://my-story-your-story.blogspot.com/ and find her on FaceBook.

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