Friday, May 30, 2008

Loose Ends

I've been home for a couple of extra days due to a sinus infection. The bad thing about delaying the departure on a "cheap seat" ticket is that you can really get hosed on change fees and additional fares. In the case of this weekend, my ticket price would've nearly tripled had I stayed with my original departure of Redding. So, this morning I'm going by the airport to pick up a rental car (cheaper than paying for two weeks of parking), and early tomorrow morning, I'll drive the nearly four hours to Oakland. From there, I'll fly to Denver, then on to New Orleans.

A couple of days ago, I did some parent volunteer time in Dylan's math class. I love his math teacher. She's also an R.N. with current credentials, so she could be making a lot more money in her other profession, but she seems utterly devoted to teaching. Thank God for people like her.

I wrote here about a boy in Dylan's math class. His dad died on Super Bowl day. That second grade kid called 911 while his mom tried to revive Dad. When you're eight years old, how do you make sense of life when your dad is there one day and gone the next?

I've hung out in Dylan's math class a good bit. The boy has seemed stoic since losing his dad; he's engaging and often smiling, and he's a whiz at math. But when I was in the class two days ago, the teacher caught my eye and mouthed the words, "comfort him." The little guy sat weeping in his chair. Apparently, while I'd been busy helping the kids at another table, the kids at his table were making fun of him for getting an answer wrong.

I went to the little guy and asked him to come to the back of the class with me. I wrapped my arms around him and tried to come up with something comforting to say. It seemed to help, and we sat in the back of the class together and worked on his math problems. Dylan got up and walked to us. I felt a little irritated, and I thought to myself, "C'mon, Dylan. The kid's dad died. This is no time to act possessive." Dylan simply walked up to me, gave me a hug, and sat back down. He looked back at me, smiled, and gave me a thumbs up.

I wonder how a classroom full of kids would have reacted if a six-five, middle-aged dad started bawling and blubbering like a baby? Because, sheesh, when Dylan gave me a thumbs up, and that smile, it was all I could do to hold it all in. I was so damned proud of him that it hurt.

As the kids exited at the end of the class, I ruffled the dadless kid's hair. "My dad died," he said. I replied, "I know, and I'm so sorry." I felt lame at that moment, but the kid seemed to take my reply in a good spirit.

I gave Dylan a hug before he ran off for recess. I said, "Dylan, I'm so proud of you for being such a grownup." He said, "No problem Dad. He needed a daddy." Aw hell, that almost turned me into a blubbering mass of jello all over again.

I made my way to the parking lot, and my car. I sat there for several minutes, praying for the kid and his mom. Then, I gave a prayer of thanks for the time I've had, and the time I have left.


debby said...

You know, Dad-o, just the fact that you're raising a generous hearted, compassionate little boy is a sign that you are doing a super job, you and Mom both. It's moments like these that you can clutch close to your heart, and when you find yourself feeling like you've failed at some parental task, take another look at the big picture, and be comforted.

Uncle E said...

Hi Hal this is Sharyn,your writing on "Loose Ends" touched me very much, and I got tearful. I do know the same boy and situation of the tragic loss of his Father and it is very sad and hard for them right now. Knowing of Dylan's extremely generous and kind spirit, it does not surprise me at all that he would give this support to his friend and trust in you to help. You are also wonderful to be there and to comfort this boy as the reality of his loss is now really settling in. Thank you for being such a loving Dad to Dylan and others who in the world who need your caring and love. Of course, Dylan has a super awesome Mom as well! Love, Sharyn

Annie said...

As one who lost my dad when I was 2 and my mom when I was 10 - you said and did exactly the right thing. I wish another mom had done that for me.

Anonymous said...

I agree - IMO you said and did just the right thing! I was 11 when my dad died and 17 when my mother died. Nothing aggravated me more than folks who said stuff like "I know just how you feel", etc. etc. A simple, heartfelt "I'm sorry" is enough.

Great post!


Redlefty said...

Well done.

Anonymous said...

Simply wonderful! Nothing else I can say. Just wonderful!


Bob said...

Oh wow, Hal, this is beautiful. Dylan obviously learned to be caring and compassionate from the best teacher he could have -- his dad. Congratulations.

quid said...

The best "thumbs up" you'll ever get...