A personal short story about a man I admire more than anyone. A man who shaped the kind of man I am today.
Over 45 years ago, growing up in a small Texas town that most people probably never heard of outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, I lost my father due to complications from a routine surgery. His passing, like all such significant personal events, shaped the trajectory of my life in the most profound ways.
Not only did my mother lose a beloved husband, but three boys lost the paternal influence that all children need to grow up to be strong, stable, well-adjusted adults.
At age four, I was the youngest of these three boys, as such, I was in the best position to put the pain of the loss of our family patriarch behind me and move on.
For my older brothers, this transition proved much more difficult. I sadly lost my middle brother when he was just 25 years old, I don’t think he ever got over losing our father.
My oldest brother, whether he realized it or not, stepped into our father’s role as a male role model as well a young man possibly could. Even in going through his own considerable growing pains and the mistakes and foibles that come with growing up without a father in the home, he taught me how to be a man in all the ways that count, all by example.
At age 14, he held down the kinds of jobs that adults were working. He was a shoe salesman as a teenager at (old man memory alert!) Kenney’s Shoe Store (now known as Foot Locker, real facts)
My fondest childhood memories are of the times my brother spent with me doing the things I would have otherwise never experienced. Because he had a job, he had a little money to spend on his little brother.
He took me to see Star Wars when it came out in 1977.
He took me to see Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980) when they were released. For the first Superman movie, I was the first kid in my elementary school class that had the commemorative Superman T-shirt to show off, obviously a gift from my big brother.
My brother moved out on his own at 16 and when he was 19 and I was 12, I spent a summer with him. That summer had a profound impact on my life. My brother not only taught me how to play chess and a game called Pente (which I play to this day and I recommend anyone to learn how to play it), but I also learned to appreciate jazz music and how to conquer my awkwardness around girls.
Most importantly, he taught me that summer how to survive and be independent.
The seemingly misspelled word in the title of this post is completely intentional. It is a play on the word “determined” meant to be interpreted as “determined man”. It was a vanity plate on one of my brother’s vehicles. A superhero name for a personal superhero.
My brother taught me by example how to become a determined man. To never give up, to never stop dreaming, to never stop pursuing excellence in a determined way.
My brother showed me that as men, we bear the burden of performance and it takes determination to succeed.
Success doesn’t translate to money or material possessions, but is rather defined by looking back in 20 or 30 years and being able to say you made a difference in the world. If not for yourself, for others.
Success means being happy with what you are doing in life.
I’m the man I am today and a better man for it because my determined brother stepped up and filled a role that very few men could have filled, much less a boy of 11 years old.
I’m proud of D-Terman and even prouder to call him my big brother and best friend.
Thank you, my brother!
-The Rational Ram