Dogged is a word I don’t use nearly enough. To describe me. To describe the people I’m with or around. To describe anyone. I haven’t formally reserved the word for very committed uses but I think the nature of the word itself makes it so.
I can say that I’ve been socialized to say something like “dogged pursuit”, treating the word dogged more as the kickoff to a compound word. What and where have I seen dogged? Embodied? No place better than this.
Maybe one better place. Maybe one more powerful place. Maybe one place I need to tell you about now, and will take so much time to tell you about in the future. You are dogged. In your pursuit of everything. And I love it. It’s inspiring. And it’s a reminder.
Your great grandmother, your Ba, was similar. A week ago we celebrated what would have been her 100th birthday (albeit a little early, but that’s not the point.) You have a connection to your Ba. In so many ways it’s uncanny. In my head I still think you have a third middle name — Bhanu, or “Ba + Nu” or, “of Ba.” It’s my own play on words.
You see, your Ba was an extraordinary spirit. She lived a fuller life through age 40 than most live ever. So when she, tragically, lost her ability to walk in the latter quarter of her life, she embraced her challenge and role in life with grace. At least that’s what I saw, as a grandson. And I allow myself a little bit of time to reflect on her experience as an adult but stop myself at the risk of going down a near infinite number of rabbit holes that would call so many things into question.
What I remember, with strength and conviction, is how she lived for most of the time I knew her. How she fought her way to subsist. When people watch this video, they’ll be hopeful and optimistic and even congratulatory about what your future holds. When you’re able to move your hands in front of you. When you’re able to get traction and crawl. When your push ups lead you to stand up, and not just to a standstill. Just about everyone who looks at this video is going to smile wide at your effort. That’s the benefit of youth, my love.
When I look at this video, know that my mind will live in two very different places. I’ll always find happiness in your every effort. Every effort. I promise you. But there’s a strong part of me that will watch this video and think of your Ba. And how she faced similar challenges often without hope. A more painful way to live. On the other side of the bell curve. Where knowledge isn’t about seeking what is next and pushing your body forward, but where knowledge is a painful reflection of what was and what could have been.
And where, like your Ba, with all of that history, pain, and legacy hung around your shoulders, having broken your legs and shattered your ability to even walk — you still fight, and crawl, and scramble, and make do.
Today, my love, you were dogged. In you, I saw a reflection of your Ba. There are few greater compliments you will receive.
Today my love for you is dogged. In honor and appreciation.