A Tale of Two Dads
A tale of Two Dads
I recently attended a celebration for an amazing young lady. She studied hard for many years and she made great sacrifices so she could put in the time it takes to learn what is required to earn the right to be called to the Torah and become a Bat Mitzvah.
It was an honor and a privilege to witness this young lady as she read so beautifully from the Torah and as she led the congregation in prayers. Because of all of the effort she invested in studying and in learning, and with the support and encouragement of her family, her Hebrew was perfection, her chanting was captivating, and her interpretation of her Torah portion left me awe-struck.
What was also particularly striking was when her father was called to the pulpit to give the Parents Blessing. Although he had lovingly prepared words from his heart and he had practiced what he would say beforehand many times, in that moment, as he spoke to his daughter before the congregation, he found the words difficult to relay. The love and dedication he felt for his little girl who was now a Bat Mitzvah, somehow made those words he had so lovingly intended to say, not come from his throat so easily. But what did were the tears that unashamedly poured from his heart and through his eyes and down his face. Those tears conveyed how proud he was of his daughter, how proud he was of this special moment, and how this father loves his child more than words will ever be able to convey. There are moments when only tears can speak what is in a father’s heart. His daughter is a beautiful, intelligent, gifted and amazing young woman who will excel throughout school and in college and who will continue to contribute greatly in this world. And I am honored to have witnessed this precious stage of accomplishment in her life.
I thought back to another time and another father and child.
It was at a park where I noticed a dad and his son, who was about 11 or 12 years old. His son wasn’t able to communicate with the world, but he seemed content to sit in the sand and to let it fall through his fingers over and over again. The dad explained to me that his son never spoke but he did make some sounds. The boy had been in speech and occupational therapy for many years and he worked very hard for the therapists. After so much time in therapy, the boy was actually able to maintain eye contact for a few seconds and the father delighted as he talked about that achievement! He told me how expensive the therapies had been and about the sacrifices the family had made just to get the right services that actually work for a child with non-typical needs. And what a pleasure it was to see all of the years of hard work pay off…a son was able to look his dad right it the eyes even for a few seconds before looking away again. The father and son connected and those few seconds of eye contact meant the world to that dad! As we talked for a little while longer about various therapies, the dad shared with me that his goal for his boy was to someday be able to go for ice cream together. He said as a boy growing up, his father used to take him out for ice cream and he has the best memories of that…he hopes to be able to share that same simple outing with his child. As we were both watching, the son stopped putting his fingers in the sand, he looked right at his father, eyes connecting, and he said, “hi.” And seconds later the boy went back into his own world and all of his attention went back to the sand. The dad wanted to say something, but he couldn’t. He was so proud of his son and his love for this boy was too great, the words would not come. But what did come were tears. Those tears conveyed how proud he was of his son, how proud he was of this special moment, and how a father loves his child more than words will ever be able to convey. There are moments when only tears can speak what is in a father’s heart. And although this man and his son from the park were strangers to me and I’ll never see them again, I am honored to have shared in this precious celebration of accomplishment in that boy’s life. I hope someday they will be able to go for ice cream and have a beautiful father and son outing. I am blessed to have witnessed two very different fathers, two very different children and two very different moments of accomplishment in their lives. Yet I am convinced the feelings held by both awesome fathers—their hard work, their love, their pride, and their dedication shown by the tears of love both fathers shed—were exactly the same.
About Author: Kelly Jackson is a single mom who lives in Tampa with her daughter, Holly. She works full time, she writes for inspiration, and she strives daily to be the best person and the best mother she can be.
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