The Cost of Tenacity

I recently had dinner with my aunt, daughter and cousin who unfortunately lost her mother less than a year ago (also my aunt). Having lost my own mother, I empathize with her deeply…realizing that at age 27, her grief resembles what mine must have looked like at 11. Among the many things we discussed in the 2 1/2 hours we sat in the restaurant, we pointed out how patient her mother was. And we noted how patient our surviving aunt is. I asked them both, “Do you think I’m a patient person?”

“Joan you are very TENACIOUS,” my Aunt replied quickly.

My cousin added, “Yeah Joan, you try and try and try and keep going until there’s nothing else to do.”

I haven’t been able to help but think if that was an easy way to say I endure long-suffering, or that I don’t know when to call the animal coroner for a dead horse.

So I looked up the definition of tenacious:



  1. a. Extremely persistent in adhering to or doing something; stubborn or relentless: “tenacious defenders of their harsh and pitiless land”(Dee Brown).
    b. Characterized by extreme persistence; relentless or enduring: tenacious detective work; tenacious superstitions.
  2. Holding together firmly; cohesive: a tenacious material.
  3. Clinging to another object or surface; adhesive: tenacious lint.
  4. Tending to retain; retentive: a tenacious memory.


Well, there’s a cost associated with tenacity. It’s tiresome. It’s unforgiving. In some ways, it’s for naught. So many questions come into play.

What am I adhering to? Why am I enduring this and that? What am I trying to hold together and why? What am I clinging to? Why am I holding on to the past?

In a passing thought, I know the answers to all those questions: Somewhere and somehow, I believe that failure is not an option for me. If I fail, I become the statistic that all little girls without fathers and who’ve lost parents at an early age become. The question is, at what point do I free myself from those constraints? Would my mother really want me to still be trying to beat the odds 30 years after she departed? I think not. However the compulsion to survive is overwhelming.

I don’t want to be tenacious, but nature won’t allow me to be any other way. So until I find another way, I will press on. There is never any rest for the weary.

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