Monday, June 21, 2010

A Father's Day Scene

Long time no post. I have a good excuse--relocating to another state and starting a new job--but I'll explain that in some future post. Right now I want to share something I witnessed this morning that reminded me of what it means to be a parent.

I was leaving the library at City of Hope (that's the new job I mentioned) this morning to go to lunch. There's a small pedestrian-only street running past the library. Sitting on the curb were a father and son, the boy maybe 6 or 7 years old. The father could have been AnyDad, sitting next to his son as they raced a remote-controlled car up and down the street on a lovely Southern California day. As the little boy watched the car zooming around, his eyes sparkled with delight, despite the nearly bald head and face mask that marked him as a cancer patient.

Of course I pitied the child. It's bad enough to get sick when you're an adult, when you've lived a bit and can have some perspective on what's happening to you. But, as a parent, my heart broke for the father. I cannot imagine the pain and terror that man has endured, fearing for his child's life and watching him suffer through treatment. But as I walked past them, playing there on the curb, I felt privileged to see what must have been a stolen moment of normality in the shadow of a high-tech cancer hospital.

To me, that little scene captured the essence of fatherhood more than all the Father's Day cards Hallmark can print.

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