John Van Osdall saw the figure coming toward him in the distance. It took a while for John to realize that it was an older man, carrying a younger man. The older man, while strong, bowed under the weight of the younger, who was tied to his father with a well-worn cloth. It was clear that the father had been faithfully carrying this child, now a young man, his entire life.
John carefully measured the boy, so that Faith In Practice could provide him with a wheelchair. And, then John explained to the young man and his father that soon the young man would be independent. Free to move on his own. It took some time for the father to understand what was happening. At first, he could not absorb it. Soon, his son would have a newfound independence. An amazing gift for his son. As John saw the father's face change from incredulity to joy and then gratitude, John realized that this gift was not only for the young man. The gift of newfound freedom and independence was also for the father, who had sacrificed so much for his child.
I remember John Van Osdall's story not only because of its beauty, but because of John's face when he told it. John understood the depths of love, the sacrifice made, because he too would have made it. John understood what it would mean to a father who wished to provide for his child, and yet, could not. John glimpsed the pain and the gratitude, because of his love for his own children. I could see it in his face.
As we move toward Father's Day, I am reminded of how our fathers have carried us through our lives. How they have shown us the way, urged us along, picked us up and brushed us off when we have fallen. How they have celebrated us. How they have sacrificed for us. How they have hurt when we hurt. How they have loved us. Always. No matter what. For that gift, may we give thanks.
As you remember your own father, as you remember what it is to be a father, consider a gift in honor or memory of your father. Give the greatest gift - - the healing of a son or daughter.
Rev. Linda L. McCarty
In loving memory of
Terrence Patrick McCarty
March 7, 1938 - May 17, 2012