I put it up today in honor of my friends who are struggling with illness, with stress, with looming changes in their lives, and with any other adversity that may be tagging along on their journeys.
"Love Doesn't Get Much Stronger Than This"
While trying to decide what to write about today -- our trip to Williamsburg this past weekend, the latest exploits of my daughter, prattling on about life in Washington -- I received an e-mail from my wife which follows. I don't think anything on earth could be a more powerful demonstration of love. Once reading the message, which is a recent article by Rick Reilly in Sports Illustrated, be sure to click the video link that follows -- and if it doesn't bring a tear to your eye and a smile to your heart, I don't know what will.
"Strongest Dad in the World" [From Sports Illustrated, By Rick Reilly]
Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.
This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.
"He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life;'' Dick says doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. "Put him in an institution.''
But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the boy communicate. "No way,'' Dick says he was told. "There's nothing going on in his brain.''
"Tell him a joke,'' Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a lot was going on in his brain.
Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? "Go Bruins!'' And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, "Dad, I want to do that.''
Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described "porker'' who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried. "Then it was me who was handicapped,'' Dick says. "I was sore for two weeks.''
That day changed Rick's life. "Dad,'' he typed, "when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!''
And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could.
Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii.
This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters.
"No question about it,'' Rick types. "My dad is the Father of the Century.''
Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass., always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day.
That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.
"The thing I'd most like,'' Rick types, "is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.''