“Keep fighting ’til the end and past the end you will be strong.”


[I wrote this more than two years ago/three months prior to my mother dying of cancer. I rediscovered it going through some older works of mine and, for some reason, felt I should share it.]


She tells me:

“For years, you’ve been vulnerable.

Like a defenseless kitten.

You’ve been on a downward slope.




You walked into a tunnel – into darkness.

I think, now, you’re walking through the tunnel toward light.”



Never have I been compared to a kitten.

A tiger – yes.

But never to its youthful progeny.



My mother makes this observation over the phone.

She is not wrong.

I’ve been told, more than once, I can read people with no more than a few scraps of information over thousands of miles of distance.

I see where I get the talent/curse.



Her words strike me with supreme force since, mere days ago, I’d realized that about myself.

How much losing my career shattered my Portuguese-hard-working pride.

How the woman I thought I’d marry leaving me for another man slew my faith in relationships.

How falling into such debt ruined my confidence in my financial savvy.

Worst of all, how the totality of hardships almost obliterated my faith in God.



There’s a point in the conversation where she starts to weep softly.

Bemoaning mistakes she made raising me.

I can tell she wants me to exonerate her.

I don’t.

Nor do I damn her, however.

I was raised to appropriately assign blame and culpability.

My response is curt but compassionate:

The past is gone.

All we can do is move forward.

I continue:

I feel safer than I have in years.

I feel more at home where I am now than I have in a while.



She sighs with relief.

She lets me know that knowledge eases her burden of worry concerning me.

She says:

“That’s because you feel loved.

You’ve always been told you were.

But now you feel it.”



I reveal to her that I’ve moved a photo of my grandparents, more than half a century old, to a new location.

So I can see it every morning.

As well as throughout the day.

Each and every time I pass the portrait, I cross myself in the Roman Catholic fashion and thank them for providing my place of residence.

While wishing my grandfather peace in the hereafter.

See, when you live a life as hard as mine, you remember to be grateful.

For everything.



I don’t tell her that I finally feel loved because, for the first time I can remember:

My parents have shown their love through action.

Rather than words.

I remain silent on that point.

Instead, remain grateful.



We hang up.

I crack the first beer I can recall in forever.

Light a cigarette.

And step into my backyard.



I watch the sun set.

Behind clouds of my own manufacture.

I say a wordless prayer of thanks for the friends that have stood by me.

For all the women who have entrusted me with their hearts over the past few years.

Even for the girl who destroyed the man I was –

Forcing me to be the man I am.




You know, when you’ve walked as stony a path as mine, you remember to be grateful.

For everything.





7 Responses to ““Keep fighting ’til the end and past the end you will be strong.””

  1. Posts like this is why I dig your writing.

    Respect for your grandparents, peace with your past, lessons learned. It’s all good. As I get older and reflect back on the heartbreaking pains in my life I realize that some of them will break my heart forever. That the past continues to pain me but I become stronger and notice it less.

    I don’t know the specifics, but it sounds like you’ve been through what most men fear the most. What most men always have at the back of their mind haunting them with anxiety. You’ve been through it.

    Gratitude. It might be one of the most underrated emotions. But when I think about my faith as a Christian, I am told that my motivation for honoring my beliefs, for obeying my God, for submitting to his rule in my life, should be born out of a posture of gratitude. This will last an eternity, and that is amazing.

    • “Posts like this is why I dig your writing.”

      Many thanks.

      I attempt to address a variety of things rather than just one or two topics.

      “I don’t know the specifics, but it sounds like you’ve been through what most men fear the most. What most men always have at the back of their mind haunting them with anxiety. You’ve been through it.”

      If it’s a horror men fear—

      It’s highly likely I’ve endured it.

      I don’t say that out of angst or for sympathy.

      I say it simple to point out your observation is spot–on.

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. While on the subject, I’d offer advise to any reader of this particular article.

    Say “Thank you” when you can. Tell your loved ones you love them when you can.

    Or in your own words, “Be grateful”, openly and in your own way.


  3. […] “Keep fighting ’til the end and past the end you’ll be strong.” (Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra) […]

  4. Best post so far.
    Gratefulness is more important than anything else. Without it, I’m useless to my tribe, and certainly to God.

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