How many true fighters have you met in this world?
I've had the privilege to know a few people in my lifetime that I consider to be true fighters. Whether they've made it pretty far in life against the odds, or they have a certain persona about them that just tells you they would fight to the death to remain true to themselves - I know a few folks whose photos should be next to the word FIGHTER in the dictionary. Why? Because there is just something about some people you meet or get to know, that just tells you there is a line you don't cross with them - and that's ok. Just don't cross that line, and they will give you anything. The true fighters don't go out picking fights, but they will not be anyone's door mat. They will stay true to who they are, and they will go down swinging. I thought I would dedicate a blog post to those people today.
First of all there is my obvious example. My dad was such a fighter when he was younger, his friends AND his own mother told me about a certain nickname - Stomp-Ass, apparently well-earned by the man. My dad was the youngest of three children, raised in a single parent home, and eventually the man of the house at 14 years old. My grandmother didn't have a lot of money, and yet somehow my dad ended up growing up to be the most stable and decisive leader of the family after my Granny was gone. My dad has survived both a heart attack and cancer. My dad still climbs on my parents' rooftop and fixes up the house after all that; stubborn and dedicated and hard working as ever. Although there were times that yes, my brothers and I felt the strength of our Dad's hand (or belt!) at our backsides growing up - there were also many times I can recall when I saw the protective side of my dad. I knew my dad meant business - and so did the rest of my church basketball team - and everyone in the gym for that matter, when he jumped to the defense of our team as some really poor officiating was letting some old school basketball bullies run amok on the basketball court, flagrant fouls and body slams along the way. I even saw the fighter in dad's eyes when one time - ONE TIME - I tried to insert myself in business that wasn't mine trying to tell my dad how to parent my brother. All it took was the flash of those eyes, and that one time was all it took. Lesson learned.
But let's face it - my dad's a fighter. I have written before about how he is my hero, so you know I don't write this to make him look bad. He is one of these tough personas I mentioned; someone who would die fighting before he ever became untrue to his own nature. I like to think I am like him in this respect.
Someone else I know who is a fighter - one of my best friends, who for privacy we will just call him, the Marine. This friend of mine has overcome a lot of things in his life. Even before those 'real life things' hit him, when we were kids, my friend was known to talk a good game. He would back it up - but he probably brought some of it on himself; that's ok - I was almost always on his good side. But my friend, the Marine, took on the life of a Marine. He got married - and divorced. He went to fight in Iraq, came back home, and when problems at home may or may not have arisen again - he went back to Iraq and fought some more. The Marine friend of mine came back, still served his country as a recruiter, injured his back, and took on a new profession. Through more family difficulties, on top of it all, he lost his mom... who was always one of my favorite 'other mommas'. Fast forward, he battles PTSD, and is winning. My friend, the Marine, is a fighter. I will always cherish his friendship, and his inspiration. Does anyone wonder why I would pick his persona as the basis for one of my main characters in the novels I write?
And finally, on to the fighter who inspired this post. Out of respect for his privacy, I won't name him. But we'll just call him the Lieutenant. The Lieutenant just left our hospital public safety team today for the last time. The Lieutenant is a 100% pure New Yorker through and through, who happens to be a transplant down south. The Lieutenant worked most of his professional career as a fire inspector for the NYFD. The lieutenant was in the military as a young man. My friend the Lieutenant will tell anyone who asks, he grew up down the block from John Gotti. A straight-up Brooklyn accent and eyes of a fighter, this friend of mine has been a security officer as long as I have been a police officer (a couple of years longer actually). He has been right there in the thick of it when someone resisted arrest with us, getting his hands just as dirty as any officer under his authority and rank. Friendly whenever folks were friendly to him, friendly whenever he knew he was supposed to be, even if the aggressor wasn't - abrupt and tough when he knew it was called for... no matter what, the people who worked around him have utmost respect for him. How do I know? Today, we said a temporary goodbye to him professionally, because my friend the Lieutenant, has cancer. But his fighter spirit is contagious. I know it because I've been inspired by it; officer after officer shook his hand with the grip of camaraderie, pulling him into a tight embrace. And everyone who knows the Lieutenant, had something similar to say because we all know the fighter he is: something along the lines of 'keep on swinging'. "This guy" I'd tell him, pointing my thumb over at him, if I could see him this instant. 'This guy' is one of the toughest hombres I've met, and the other thing you see when you look into his eyes? A heart of God. My friend the Lieutenant has a heart for people; a heart for his family; a heart for the people he worked with; and a heart for the tough life he lived. Yep - he's a fighter, and he'll keep swinging.
So what about you? Do you know some people in your life that are real fighters? The world we live in, the politically correct world, the bleeding hearts out there - they will tell you that this world doesn't need fighters. But if not for the fighters, we wouldn't have people out there willing to fight for you - for me. Fighters are here because this world has darkness. Until Jesus comes again, you can either succumb to some of that darkness - or you can be a fighter. There are more things to fight out there than people, and who knows - maybe, just maybe, the Good Lord blessed some of the fighters we know.