Friday, June 29, 2012

Greatest comebacks...

"I get knocked down, but I get up again
They're never gonna keep me down.."

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Most sports fans would say that comeback victories are more exciting than routs.

Comebacks are thrilling because most of us can identify with the impulse to pull the covers over our heads and want to go to sleep (or...whatever your preferred method of avoidance is) when we suffer a setback. And sometimes that's the right thing to do. Other times, we have to get back up and fight.
We get knocked down but we get up the song says.

Winston Churchill, Robert Downey Jr., much as I hate to reference them, the 2004 Boston Red Sox. People and groups who come back against all the odds are exciting.

They earn our admiration and they inspire us to do better, to not give up. To pay no attention to "the odds" and to keep doing what we are doing. No matter what it is. One book at a time. One base hit at a time. One point at a time.

Yesterday, a little-known Czech tennis player named Lukas Rosol beat Rafael Nadel in the second round at Wimbledon. Rosol lost the first set, it went to five sets. No one - except perhaps Rosol's parents and his coach - were betting on him.  Even if you're not a tennis fan, or a fan of David versus Goliath stories, you have to hand it to a guy who has so much belief in himself that it doesn't matter if thousands of people are expecting him to lose, and in fact cheeringf for him to do so, so that they can eventually see a more marquee matchup.

 Right now I'm thinking of Maria Sharapova, who came back from shoulder surgery to regain the number one ranking and win the French Open last month. But it's not just sports figures. Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and Steve Jobs were great comeback stories.

Do you have a favorite comeback story? Someone famous? A family member or friend? Whose story helps you get back up?


  1. I like Downey Jr's comeback story, strong. Makes us believe that if you want it, it's always possible.

  2. I like that one too. Talk about a turnaround!

  3. Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family? For a while it was one scandal or blunder after another. Now, back in the world's hearts, in no small part (IMO) because of the movie, The Queen, and because Prince Harry is so darn cute.

  4. My favorite is Marv Albert, the basketball radio announcer who survived (after a few years of hiding out) that crazy sex scandal. NBC fired him in 1997 for pleading guilty to sex charges -- hookers, biting, underwear, garter belts -- I can't remember exactly. But he's back on the air with rarely a blush.

  5. I've always been partial to Kathryn Hepburn's. She was supposed to be box-office death and had been famously described as having acting skills that ran the gamut from A to B. Then, she bought the rights to Philadelphia Story and never looked back.

  6. Jake Lawless, who I met through the Rick Hansen Relay. Jake is in a wheelchair--he's an incomplete quadriplegic. He's also smart, compassionate and funny--not a Pollyanna, just a genuinely cool guy. I met him last fall and I'm still telling people about him, which gives you an idea of the kind of impression he made.

  7. This is a very personal one, worthy of a ChumbaWumba song:

    In 1970, Roger and a group of friends, all on their first summer break in college, were hanging out at the local park. Roger's best friend had just gotten a new motorcycle and he let Roger and his girlfriend try it. They only traveled 100 yards before losing control, right into a tree.

    Ever since, Roger has been in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the hips down. But he has lived on his own, and he used to travel from his winter home in Ft. Lauderdale to Cincinnati every spring, usually alone. He has been married three times, this last time to a wonderful Colombian woman who adores him. He also did most of the work on his summer camp home himself.

    Roger is, and has been, my hero, just for getting through these last four decades, and with good humor and intelligence. It's hard to complain about one's lot when faced with someone like him. Makes my puny troubles look pretty insignificant.

  8. Wow, Karen, that's such a moving story. They all are. Whether the blow is as big as that one, or something less than life threatening, the stories of those who "get back up" can't fail to inspire us. think abut James Patterson and the 35 rejections!

  9. RO, I sing that ChumbaWumba ALL THE TIME. Somehow it's really inspirational.

    Thinking about the Today Show..Matt Lauer, remember, was out of work and livin' with his dog in Connecticut say 20 years ago. He'd been a host at the station where I work, perfectly nice but not an A-lister. He once aid he thought he'd never work again. It's not--inspirational, I guess. But it shows how profoundly things can change.

  10. It's DEFINITELY inspirational, Hank.

  11. Oh Ro,
    You won me at the Red Sox photo!

    And Hank, I did not know the Matt Lauer story and that is inspirational.

    My currently favorite comeback story is my writing buddy Barbara Shapiro. We have been editing, coaching and propping each other up for 22 years. She wrote four books that did not get published. Now, in the fall, her book, The Art Forger, published by Algonquin is getting all sorts of fabulous press.

    And I apologize for being MIA this week. I just finished the newstory-from-hell that has been consuming my every waking hour.

  12. Most important to me is our daughter who fights for her life with a smile that I can't manage. She jokes. She orders me to write and send her copy to read in ICU/ISO. She teases me when I am down and doesn't let me feel guilty about it. She wants to laugh. She is proud that I am a wheelie. Huh? Yeah. I don't know why. She bragged about her wheelie doctor then found out it was only knee surgery that got her the chair rights. I had to listen to her get upset over that. More jokes.

    She says the best comeback story is "The SOX. The SOX. The SOX. And the rebirth of The Green Monster that saved Fenway from being deported to Southie, or Eastie, or - shudder - Nashua."

  13. Reine,
    Your daugther wins my vote!

  14. Reine, your daughter wins hands down. I hope she's recovering from that last emergency surgery. Brave daughter, brave mother! xoxo

  15. Thanks, Jan. She loves the Sox. If she can't sit on the Green Monster, she has to sit across from it where she can admire its greatness. xo

    Thanks Linda. She's out of ICU but still in isolation. Doctors seem hopeful yet won't even aim at a release date till they see how the new antibiotic goes. xoxo

    Some days I feel like I live in a Stephen King book.

  16. Reine,
    There IS a horror element to illness, particularly where infections are concerned. Bacteria/viruses are invaders/aliens!

    I love your daughter's attitude...I would like to have some of her courage!