Where do I begin in telling the story that culminated in Colorado this past weekend? There are so many scenes in a life, but which are the defining moments? The ones that tell the story of who we are?
For me, it was the wounding moments; such as:
(Though I don’t recall it) standing outside on beautiful northwestern Pennsylvania day, sun shining bright in the grey sky. It’s humid–as it always is so near to Lake Erie–but despite the stickiness, a father and son are outside playing catch. The boy has the flaming red hair of his father; indeed, there’s no mistaking that he’s his father’s son. The little boy is two, maybe three, his face screwed tightly in concentration. He wants to catch the ball.
He misses. Again.
The father, a young man maybe twenty-seven, or twenty-eight, needs his son to catch the ball. It is an ache within him. He had been an athlete, all his glories upon the field. All of that changed with an injury. He is blessed beyond measure just to be upright, walking, playing here with his son.
The boy again fails to catch the ball.
The father grows ever more frustrated, ever more impatient.
“What’s wrong with you,” he asks? “Catch the ball!” He throws it again; the boy almost… No, it slips through his grasp.
His little lip quivers. He wants to please his father, but can’t quite do it. Each time, it’s just outside of his grasp, just beyond his ability to do what is asked.
But he doesn’t give up.
The father retrieves the ball, throws it harder. Again, his little son fails. He was born prematurely, and maybe his coordination lags as a result? But the boy stays, lip quivering, tears beginning to leak from his eyes.
“What’s wrong with you? Stop crying! Or I’ll give you reason to cry. Catch the damn ball, Chad!”
His father throws the ball again, and again, harder and harder at Chad’s abdomen.
Despite his best efforts, Chad never does catch the damn ball that day. His father stalks off in frustration.
All the while, his mother watches from a window, doing nothing.
How does the boy become a man know this is true? Because, years later his mother told him. And it is consistent with with his experiences with his father.