2 min read
01 Aug

     When I was a child, I used to help my father out on the ranch, and he had this bull that captivated me from the moment I saw him. It was a strong, proud bull and he was king of his ranch. He was like a lion the way he walked with his head held high and the aura he carried himself with. That’s the kind of person I wanted to be like when I grew up, a strong and confident man. Over the years I watched that bull get himself into all sorts of trouble and more often than not he injured himself or others. I never did follow in my father's footsteps to take charge of the ranch; no, my dreams were much bigger than that. I left for college to make something of myself and I liked to believe I had. I graduated top of my class, and still wanted more. My next move was to law school and I felt like that bull did in his pen. I was now the lion among men, the confident and strong man I always wanted to be. Prideful and ever so arrogant. So, it's no surprise when I finished law school and I was offered a job at a top firm in the country.      

     Life had been good, and the riches kept rolling in after that. I had more than enough money to support myself, so I chose to pay off any loans my father had left on his ranch as well. He didn’t like that, like that bull he was too prideful to ask for help if it meant his ego was bruised. I went behind his back and did it anyways knowing I would never get the approval I sought from him. I stayed in touch with my father over the years, but out of the blue he called me to tell me the bull had died. He asked for my help for a weekend and I obliged. I took some time off and returned that our family ranch. I asked what had happened, did the bull die of old age? He told me the bull had escaped his pen, and got wrapped up in the barbed wire. Writhing in pain and agony, and attacking anyone who tried to help him My father had to put him down out of his misery. His stubborn pride had become his downfall after all these years. I still saw myself in that bull, but I saw my father more and more. He wasn’t the prideful lion, but the stubborn bull who refused any help. So, when my father told me the real reason, he had asked me there I was shocked.      

     Cancer is all I heard when he sat me down to talk one on one. That word echoing in my ears drowning out the world around me. My father had been diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer after smoking a pack of cigarettes a day it shouldn’t have been a surprise. I still saw him as this invincible man from my childhood though, and he may have been a stubborn man but he was my father.  We talked for the next hour or so and at the end he told me he wasn’t going to fight it. He didn’t want help, and he wanted to die on his own terms.  There it was again just like with the bull. His damn pride would be the death of him. I knew this, I couldn’t plead with the old man to save his own life, and nothing I could say would change that fact. I hugged him and said my goodbyes for the time being knowing I would be back soon to bury him. He passed 3 weeks later, and life seemed to come crashing down around me. I took time off from work to take care of his burial and his estate. I buried him next to Ma who had died during my childhood. It was what he wanted, and it brought a smile to my face to see them reunited once again.      

      Having lost all the family I ever had, I sold the ranch and settled my father's affairs. I went back to the only life I knew, being a lion, being a lawyer. Unfortunately, the more time passed the more worn down I became until one day I looked in that mirror. I didn’t see that glorious lion's mane; I saw 2 horns staring back at me. My pride had become my enemy, and my health was deteriorating quickly. I went for a checkup at my doctor's office and they told me I needed to take better care of myself. They ran the basic tests and told me they would call me with my results.  When I finally got that call, I heard only one word, cancer. In that moment I was thrust into my father's boots, and had a choice to make. Was I going to let my stubborn pride lead to my death or was I going to fight the brain cancer? I had a flashback to the day I first saw that bull. I remembered how majestic he looked, and thinking back how that’s what I wanted to look like. That’s how I wanted to live my life, not the arrogance, not the stubbornness and the inability to ask for help. I didn’t want to die, and I refused to die like my father. I chose to receive the chemotherapy and fought back. Eventually I went into remission and the cancer had been stopped. I had no one to celebrate with besides coworkers. Everyone I loved had let their eyes be blinded by their pride and I chose to cut the horns off. To put down the lions mane, and become the man I needed to be, the man my father never could be.   

Mack

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