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.

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