“I’m never gonna catch a fish!” my 8-year-old daughter Liv fretted as she repeatedly cast her line out into the pond. The only sister in a rowdy bunch of four brothers, she became more discouraged by the moment as she watched her older siblings reel in fish after fish. When her baby brother finally got a bite, utter dejection set in.
“Don’t give up, Cami Liv” I tried to encourage her. “Cami” is the shortened form of her first name, “Cameron.” And although my daughter prefers to go by her middle name, “Liv,” I usually refer to her with this combination of the two names when I see glimpses in her of myself–“Tammi”–the grown woman who still has to encourage herself in the same way on a daily basis.
Standing on the bank of that fishing pond, I noted Cami Liv’s slumped shoulders and defeated posture but wasn’t overly concerned. I knew she wasn’t one to give up. Here’s why. In the same moment I learned I was carrying her, I was also told I wouldn’t be able to because it was a tubal pregnancy. That night I grieved my unborn child, knowing she would be taken from my body the next morning. Following the surgery, I was shocked to be informed she wasn’t in my tubes after all and that I was still pregnant, but should expect to miscarry at any time. Hence the name and the prayer, “Cameron Liv,” that she would do just that.
And she did. Nine months after that dismal prognosis, a scrawny, screaming Cameron Liv entered the world minus any of the numerous birth defects doctors had predicted for her. The same tenacity she used to hang on to life in order to prove them wrong would serve her well now. With my coaxing (“If you believe you can do it, you can!”) and the assistance of Dan, the manager of the vacation ranch, Liv cast her line once more. Almost immediately, we all watched as she got a bite and it tugged on her line – hard.
“Oh, it’s a big one, Livvy!” Dan whispered ecstatically.
My scrawny, strong daughter held on as Dan helped her reel in the biggest catch of the day. In fact, it was so big that Liv was afraid of it. So much so, that she refused to even hold it up for her bragging rights picture. As all of the guys came over to gawk at Liv’s prize catch, I caught her eye. The pride I felt was reflected there. I also saw that glimpse of myself – the woman who has wanted to publish a novel ever since I was her age. This weekend I cast my line out again. I entered my novel in the Operation First Novel Contest. You see, in making her catch, my tenacious Cami Liv reminded me not to give up, to believe and to persevere. I may not win, but it won’t be for lack of casting my line.
Besides, maybe my daughter showing me the power of perseverance is the prize.
-Tammi Ector Fisse
Photo courtesy of Richard Hurd