Sunday, I was at one of my favorite lunch spots and had a brief conversation with one of the restaurant’s employees.
“What’s going on, brother?” I asked.
“Working! Working…working…working. Seven days a week. That’s all I ever do is work. I never get ahead,” he replied, while bussing a table and shaking his head in doing so.
“But you’re making it; you’re not giving up,” I said. “Don’t ever give up.”
One of my most popular stories about my stuttering is that of being the starting quarterback of my junior high school football team, but, in reality, I was not the starting quarterback. In fact, I was not a quarterback at all. Furthermore, my football career lasted all of eight days. To be honest, I saw the writing on the wall when I was beaten in wind sprints by a guy named “Beefy.” I called it a career shortly thereafter.
I gave up. I quit.
Speaking of football, last Saturday, as I was preparing for a speaking gig at Saugahatchee Country Club, I sent a text message to a friend asking for an update on the Auburn – LSU game.
Just before I started my set, he replied, “21-0 in the second quarter.”
Because they were playing in Death Valley, I didn’t have to ask who was winning. I just shook my head and hoped they wouldn’t give up, and, much to my delight, they didn’t. Auburn didn’t win the game but they fought valiantly until the end. By all accounts, they outplayed LSU in the second half but the 21 points were simply too much to overcome.
The Auburn family was very proud of our coaches and players, and rightfully so, because they never gave up.
In 2006, the New Orleans Saints signed non-stuttering quarterback Drew Brees to a contract. Due to a contract dispute and shoulder injury, Brees was not resigned by his former team, the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers instead went with Philip Rivers who was selected in the first round of the previous year’s NFL draft.
Brees almost landed in Miami but the Dolphins, fearing his shoulder had not yet healed, opted for Daunte Culpepper instead. Brees eventually found a home in New Orleans and did the unthinkable; he won a Super Bowl with the Saints.
Culpepper’s career fizzled and Rivers’ career has been one of disappointment, whereas Drew Brees has gone on to be a surefire, first ballot hall of famer.
He never gave up.
In 1995, professional wrestler, Stunning Steve Austin, was fired from his job at World Championship Wrestling while injured. To, add insult to injury, literally, he was fired over the phone. After a couple of more speed bumps in his career, he developed his signature character.
Today, Stone Cold Steve Austin is arguably the most popular superstar in the history of the World Wrestling Federation and continues to be a prominent figure in the entertainment industry.
Why? He didn’t quit.
My Aunt Carol, Uncle Glenn’s wife, was a sweet lady and cooked a mean pot of chili. Sadly, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1991, followed by breast cancer in 1997. Carol eventually succumbed to the disease in 2011, but she fought courageously for 20 years.
She never gave up.
On June 21, 2012, four year old Emma Grace Mitchell of Oxford was diagnosed with a Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor (PNET), which is a rare tumor that usually occurs in children and young adults. The next day, she underwent surgery to remove it. However, the tumor quickly returned, and, over the next several months, Emma underwent chemo, radiation and a stem cell transplant at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.
In August of this year, after just a couple of months at home, Emma underwent a second brain surgery for a third tumor and is currently going through chemo. According to her mom and her almost 10,000 followers on her Team Emma Facebook page, the fabulous Emma is always positive and is always spreading happiness with her infectious smile.
Emma is an inspiration to all and is not giving up.
I could ramble on and on about the trials and tribulations I’ve experienced throughout my life but will spare you the drama for now. I will say, however, that there have been some very dark days along the journey but not finishing that season with my junior high school football team is the only time I ever quit anything worthwhile.
I can’t change that, which is okay with me, because a valuable lesson was learned from that experience nearly three decades ago, and, today, I can unequivocally say that I am not a quitter.
I never give up.
There is, however, one thing I can change. I want a rematch with “Beefy.” I think I can take him.
“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up,” said an emotional and cancer stricken Jim Valvano at the 1993 ESPY Awards on ESPN.
Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.