The Lesson

By Jessica Jacobs

October 2, 2017

The Lesson

Only after the starter gun's snap, did my father burst from the port-a-potty. Only after the other triathletes had raced across the sand and high-stepped it through the shallows like a flamboyance of flamingos in wetsuits, did he run, a streamer of toilet paper flapping from his heel, a crowd of funny guys shouting, "You can catch 'em, buddy!" as he waved to my sister and me in the stands. 

Every time he tells this, he says, "If you girls hadn’t been there, I'd have slunk out and gone home. I did it to teach you a lesson, to teach you—" But my memory of that day isn't of that day but of his telling of it. And to me, that's the lesson: This man, up before work to run and bike, back home again to shoot hoops or play catch or run while I rode my scooter beside him, then back to the office after kissing us goodnight. Who lived a life of showing up, of following through. This man who must have been tired all the time. The lesson that something hard is easier if we tell ourselves we're doing it for others. The lesson that the stories we most often tell are the stories we ourselves most need to hear.

Comments (10) - Post a Comment
Love, love, love, LOVE this. My father was so different, yet so much the same. Beautiful!!
sue granzella at 9:17am EDT - October 2, 2017
Beautiful. What a tribute to a great dad and precious relationship. Thanks for sharing.
Candace at 10:27am EDT - October 2, 2017
There is nothing better for a parent than knowing we have given our children happy memories and great life lessons. Thanks for sharing and our best to your Dad
Barb R. at 10:34am EDT - October 2, 2017
Thank you for helping me remember My Dad riding his old red Schwinn 6 mi to work some 65 yrs ago. My excuse for my own lifelong exercise obsession.
Polly Magargal at 12:26pm EDT - October 2, 2017
Just beautiful. This touched my heart today. Thank you!
Carol Barrow at 1:42pm EDT - October 2, 2017
So much said here. Funny and touching. Loved it.
Sarah B. at 2:41pm EDT - October 2, 2017
Thank you all for your lovely responses. The biggest joy about this being published October 2 is that this marks my father's 70th birthday--an event that reminds me it's all the more important to tell him how much his example shaped me and continues to guide me today.
Jessica Jacobs at 4:51pm EDT - October 2, 2017
As a Catholic priest I can say the same holds true for preaching homilies: "The stories we often tell are the stories we most need to hear ourselves." Lovely and so true ... well done, my friend!
Marc at 10:46am EDT - October 5, 2017
Thank you for this.
Bethany at 4:05pm EDT - October 9, 2017
"This man who must have been tired all the time." Thanks for sparking a memory of my late father. Even as a kid, I thought, why is Dad using his vacation days to drive us (Mom and 4 kids) hundreds of miles across the Plains, up and down mountains and back home again? He did it for us, and I am grateful.
Mary at 10:00pm EDT - October 19, 2017


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