November 14, 2008
One thing that is sorta my Dad's mantra is that we are "_______s and they are tough" (maiden name removed for privacy purposes but imagine a tough sounding last name like the 'Gritts' the 'Moxys' or perhaps the 'Cougars'). I can remember him telling me this when I was away at school for the first time at Colorado Northwestern Community College. It was a whole 300 miles from home, and to console me before leaving he said something like, We are tough as nails and we have that Cougar Bounce! You'll be fine! Then when they left, I plopped my 18 year old self on the top bunk of the room I shared with the room mate I had yet to meet, and bawled my Cougar eyes out. But he was somewhat correct. After about 2 weeks, my Cougar bounce started to show and I was snarling at people and showing my Cougar claws. I had to bravely recruit patients to be my guinna pigs in the dental chair- that took courage! I had to turn down endless invitations to go to keggers. I had to fight of frisky boyfriends, go to church alone, and on and on. I invented a ritualistic thing to show myself I belonged to H hall (the only co-ed dorm btw). Every time I passed a certain spot in the dorm hallway I touched a red button that had some unknown purpose. It was more like a light than a button. It didn't trigger anything- just a habit like the Notre Dame football team touching their 4 leaf clover dude on their way out to the football field. (Didn't you see Rudy?) It seemed to give me power and soon my mealy-mouthed room mate Pam was touching the button too. A trend setter!
Months later when I would call home with a problem with my hard life my father would again mention my Cougarness and I started to believe him. We cougars were like invincible or something! The toughness truly came from my Father's side. So he was most proud of it. I recall my youngest sister actually having a dream of being chased by a tiger and instead of being afraid, she mounted the tiger and rode off into the sunset.... Cougar bounce my friends.
Some in my family are not Cougars. They come from a different blood line. My family is combined. Dad will often point out the differences. The 'Milkmaids' have a calmer disposition. Slow to anger, but sensitive and sometimes grudge holders. Never needed spanking. Not the Cougars. I was spanked plenty of times and even recall a time when Mrs Stansfield my kindergarten teacher one-handedly grabbed my cheeks and closed her grip on my face to stop me from sassing or something. Did I get nervous or sad? NO! My Cougar roared up and through those squished up cheeks I stuck my tongue out! Can you believe I did such a thing? Well I did. And I was sent to Principal Eddenfield for it. (Real names used- it was 35 years ago for heaven's sakes!)
When my husband talked to my dad about the idea of asking for my hand in marriage, he has a clear memory of something my Dad said to him about my capabilities as a wife and mother. "K is strong, and strong-willed. Treat her nicely and she will respond in kind, but one word of cation... Never pinch her cheeks, it's like unleashing an avalanche!" (kidding). He went on to give this great advise though "When you decide to start a family she will serve you well. She could probably handle like 6 or 7, maybe 8 kids.... but you two better talk that over and decide what you'd like to do" (gee thanks), Troy was a bit taken aback. We've settled for 5 but that is nothing to sneeze at and I am sure I could have handled more due to my Cougarness and all. But we have done okay I think.
Medical school, residency, being a military family, and living overseas have all been hard things. But once again, my Dad would say time and again "You are a Cougar and you can handle anything that comes your way."
So where am I going with this? I guess I am trying to screw up my Cougar courage since it was my first crybaby day today. I may have some Milkmaid moments, but deep down I am a Cougar, and just may be indestructible. So worry not for me people. I am sticking out my symbolic tongue at this deployment thingy. At least for today.