There was no stadium of fans cheering for my Dad. His only fans were in the ring with him - and I don't mean on the other side of the ropes in the corner and out of harm's way, but right there in the ring. If Dad went down, the fight was coming to us. But we didn't know it, we weren't even scared. We clowned around on the mat, oblivious to the beating that Dad was taking. Or we tugged at his shorts, asking why he didn't play with us more, not knowing that Dad could only play when his opponent was laying on the canvas, and this didn't happen all that often. Most of his opponents were a lot bigger and better than he was, and Dad had no training before entering the ring. But, he made the experience as fun for us as he could, and talked to us throughout.
There was no bell, and no breaks. We usually made him get his own water, because, well, why shouldn't he get his own water? He's big, isn't he? He chose to get into the ring, didn't he? I fear we weren't the most supportive team.
Day after day, year after year, he stood in the center of the ring absorbing one body blow after another. Slowly, one by one, we left the ring, some remembering to thank him, some not. He kept fighting for a while after we left. In fact, that was when he did some of his best fighting. He was experienced now and, without the distraction of half a dozen kids, he frequently stretched his opponents on the canvas long enough to spend some time with mom. When he finally retired for good, there was no fanfare or million dollar purse, and certainly no statue in Philadelphia. The promoter just shook his hand, and told him to turn off the lights behind him on the way out.
Now, facing our own opponents, we wish we had paid a little more attention.
(Dad is currently on a mission in Mexico with mom. Probably not fighting anymore, but certainly putting on a clinic.)
Thanks again Dad!
|They celebrate Father's Day in Mexico as well.|