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A Karen Named Sue

Johnny Cash, the man in Black, had a humorously terrifying song “A Boy Named Sue”. The premise being a dude, named Sue (Duh) by his father This dude’s father left the family but having that name hung on him, the dude has had a life of strife, fights, ridicule, etc. Upon meeting his father in a bar later in life, he seeks his revenge. After a whoopin’ gets to his gun before his dad can pull his and (suspenseful music) his dad says before you shoot I wanted to explain it wasn’t a cruel joke but an attempt to toughen you up for this whole life thing. The excuse “I knew I wouldn’t be around” is still a %$#% move. The redemption in the song is limited, but they make up and move on. Lyrics include:

“And he said, “Son, this world is rough
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough
I knew I wouldn’t be there to help you along
So I give you that name, and I said goodbye
And I knew you’d have to get tough or die
It’s that name that helped to make you strong”

He said, “Now you just fought one heck of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right to kill me now
And I wouldn’t blame you if you do
But you ought to thank me, before I die
For the gravel in ya gut and the spit in ya eye
‘Cause I’m the son of a bitch that named you Sue’
What could I do?”

It’s kinda funny…my mom’s given name is Karen but over 50 years I have only ever heard her called Sue unless we were in the DMV or filling out forms. I’m not sure why but my Dad’s family didn’t use their real first names either. I can’t remember what age I started wondering if they were spies or just plain nuts.

Regardless, Mother Dear has been humping around on a broken hip for nigh to 11 months now…I know…it seems unlikely…welcome to the new world. Thanks to Dr. Harmon at the Clinic and his team of care givers, there are some people who still seem to both care and offer it to others. New hip, rough few days, broke out of rehab jail, and this tough broad is hauling her new hip and the rest of her original parts around like Usain Bolt might have competition soon. It is an absolute joy to see after watching her grimace and jerk around while her joint ground together like that horrifying curb stomp scene from American History X. Still gives me goose bumps. The surgeon described her hip post-surgery as “totally smoked”. I think that’s fancy Latin medical jargon for bad, very bad.

So, what? It reminds me of something that I end up talking about in the office at the Sanktch all the time. Life is not an easy ride unless you won some sort of cosmic lotto. If you have not run screaming into a wall that was never going to move during some of your days, strap up, it is coming. You might not deserve it, you might. It might be a string of small annoyances or cuts; it might be something that breaks your soul into pieces or cuts you to the quick. You can’t duck it, you can’t be a good enough person to avoid it, there is no hiding. The thing is there is no hiding, but there is deciding. It can crush you into a jiggling pile of worthlessness. It can carve you into something stronger, more resilient, more flexible, or capable. That you choose. It doesn’t always feel like you have a choice. You can’t pick whether or not it happens, but you can elect one outcome and reject others. Kind of like Sue in the song, who upon hearing the explanation, completely changed his perception of his name, his father, his life, and who he is in the world. It’s been awesome also watching a Karen named Sue do the same, a sincerely tough lady who has endured months of pain and decreasing hope to find out how strong and amazing she it. Well done Sue. Love ya. Gonna use you as an example. Not asking permission. Just gonna do it. You Rock!!! And limp. But mostly Rock!!!

Your life will have sorrow. Pain. Disappointment. Friends who turn out not to be. Illness. Loss. Less things than some. Moments of doubt. Haters. Stress. Anxiety. Math. People in general. I’ll stop there. You could do much worse than being a Karen named Sue.

Click Here to Hear the Song 

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