I loved the movie Rocky. I watched it the for the first time in 1976. I was 12. I have watched the movie too many times to count since. I liked it because of the love between Rocky and Adrian. I liked it because of Rocky's rise from nothing to victory and success. I liked it because it told a good story with a man who kept getting up and putting himself back in the ring. I liked all of that and more.
I know a lot of Rockys. Those who work so hard for so long pushing themselves to their own end points all for something they believe in. The Rockys I know all have something in common. They do not believe in failure and they will do whatever it takes to win. I know of women who work two or three jobs rising in the morning from mattresses they sleep on from the floor, wash themselves from hot water they boiled in a pot on the stove and then added to cold water waiting for them in the sink. They go to jobs where they punch in, bring their lunches to lunch meetings where co-workers gather in restaurants. And without missing a beat they pull out their brown bag determined not to allow the shame in their gut to rise to their face. They catch the bus to the train to the bus and then walk the last 1 and 1/4 mile back home, just after scratching the bottom of their purses for milk, eggs and peanut butter money that may not be there. They arrive home to kids who have dreams squeezed between hungry stomachs and cold rooms with stoves that are barren except for the heat turned to 350 heating the rooms inside. I know these Rockys. The ones who know for sure they are alone and that babies' daddy is not sending what he promised yet again. She stopped begging a long, long time ago. His lies are not even creative any more.
I grew up the child of a Rocky momma. So I know a little of what I speak about. I know so I can tell it. I am one of them. I have boiled that pot on the stove.
And from my Rocky I emerged victorious because of her fight early on. It is because she kept getting back in that ring, bruised from fighting life's fight that I drew my strength. I saw how she made things stretch. I pretended to agree when she sewed some of our clothes saying, home made is better than store bought any day. I smiled through crocodile tears in the thrift store when we shopped for back to school clothes or when she handed the teller at Albertsons food stamps.
One thing I knew for sure, I was not about to let my sensitive attitude pile onto her fight. She had enough fighting against her already. Her Apollo Creed came in many shapes and sizes. The landlord who worked with her but still expected his rent. The unofficial car lender, who worked in payments and interests he created and tracked. The life insurance agent who came every quarter until he stopped coming when she could not keep up with the premium. She did not need my crocodile tears mixed in that fight.
I saw over and over and over how she came home between jobs to rest some, regroup, fix herself up and get back in that ring to face her Apollo. And from all of that emerged me. I collect rent from properties I own outright, my life insurance is paid in full, and I have not had a car note in over ten years. I get it from my Rocky and I am winning!
I am now Rocky Balboa because she faced off with her Apollo Creed. Thank you Rockys everywhere. We see you. We hear you. We love the fight in you!