Friday, August 08, 2008


Have you been watching television at all in the last few weeks? Have you seen the Visa commercial with the footage of the runner who, in the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, pulled up lame in his race and crumpled to the track? Here's the link to the video, if you've missed it.

As Derek Redmond lay there and writhed in agony, both physical and emotional--his chance to win gold and glory in the 400 meters in shambles--his father came running out onto the track. Derek painfully got up and hobbled forward, his face grim and wretched, determined to finish, no matter what. Brushing away the officials who tried to waylay him, his father's eyes never left his son. He reached Derek, put his arm around him and hoisted him up. The other runners had long since finished their race. Seconds ticked by, but eventually, Derek and his father made their way, haltingly, heartbreakingly, together, to the finish line.

"He and his father finished dead last," intones Morgan Freeman. "But he and his father...finished."

There's a longer video available on YouTube that shows the entire race. It's titled "Perseverance."

It should be called, or at least subtitled, "Love." I can't watch it without tears dripping down my face. It would have been touching before I had a son of my own. I would probably have put myself in the place of Redmond, devastated by his injury and the loss of his dream.

Now, as a parent, I so strongly identify with his father that I can barely stand thinking about how he must have felt and how he made sure that he reached his son, no matter who tried to stop him. It makes so much sense to me that I can feel it in every molecule of my body. That was his child. He was going to help his child when his child needed him. And he did.

I may not be able to help my child make it to the Olympics. I may not be able to keep him from ever feeling sad or frustrated or angry or hurt. I may not be able to keep him from even failing at some things. But I will always go to him when he needs me.

No comments: