My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me. --Jim Valvano (1946 - 1993) US basketball coach
Dear Friends:

On this Fathers Day Sunday, I present a tribute to dear old Dad.
And think about this: When he is gone it will be too late to tell him how much you loved him.

This teenager lived alone with his father, and the two of them had a very special relationship. Even though the son was always on the bench, his father was always in the stands cheering. He never missed a game. This young man was still the smallest of the class when he entered high school. But his father continued to encourage him but also made it very clear that he did not have to play football if he didn't want to. But the young man loved football and decided to hang in there. He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he'd get to play when he became a senior.

All through high school he never missed a practice nor a game, but remained a bench warmer all four years. His faithful father was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him.

When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for the football team as a "walk-on." Everyone was sure he could never make the cut, but he did. The coach admitted that he kept him on the roster because he always puts his heart and soul to every practice, and at the same time, provided the other members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed. The news that he had survived the cut thrilled him so much that he rushed to the nearest phone and called his father. His father shared his excitement and was sent season tickets for all the college games. This persistent young athlete never missed
practice during his four years at college, but he never got to play in the game. It was the end of his senior football season, and as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before the big play off game, the coach met him
with a telegram.

The young man read the telegram and he became deathly silent. Swallowing hard, he mumbled to the coach, "My father died this morning. Is it all right if I miss practice today?" The coach put his arm gently around his shoulder
and said, "Take the rest of the week off, son. And don't even plan to come back to the game on Saturday. Saturday arrived, and the game was not going
well. In the third quarter, when the team was ten points behind, a silent young man quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football gear. As he ran onto the sidelines, the coach and his players were astounded
to see their faithful teammate back so soon. "Coach, please let me play. I've just got to play today," said the young man. The coach pretended not to hear him. There was no way he wanted his worst player in this close playoff game. But the young man persisted, and finally feeling sorry for the kid, the coach
gave in.

"All right," he said. "You can go in." Before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown, who had never played before was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. He ran, he passed, blocked and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph. The score was soon tied. In the closing seconds of the game, this kid intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the winning
touchdown. The fans broke loose. His teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders. Such cheering you've never heard!

Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that the young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone. The coach came to him and said, "Kid, I can't believe it.
You were fantastic! Tell me what got into you? How did you do it?" He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said, "Well, you knew my dad died, but did you know that my dad was blind?" The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, "Dad came to all my games, but today was the first time he could see me play, and I wanted to show him I could do it!"

Her hair was up in a ponytail: Her favourite dress tied with a bow. Today was Daddy's Day at school, and she couldn't wait to go.

But her Mummy tried to tell her, that she probably should stay home. Why the kids might not understand, if she went to school alone.

But she was not afraid; she knew just what to say.
What to tell her classmates, of why he wasn't there today.

But still her mother worried, for her to face this day along.
And that was why once again, she tried to keep her daughter home.

But the little girl went to school, eager to tell them all.
About a dad she never sees - a dad who never calls.

There were daddies along the wall in back, for everyone to meet. Children squirming impatiently, anxious in their seats.

One by one the teacher called - a student from the class.
To introduce their daddy - as seconds slowly passed.

At last the teacher called her name, every child turned to stare. Each of them was searching for a man who wasn't there.

"Where's her daddy?" she heard a boy call out.
"She probably doesn't have one," another student dared to shout.

And from somewhere near the back - she heard a daddy say - "Looks like another deadbeat dad, too busy to waste his day."

The words did not offend her, as she smiled up at her Mum. And looked back at her teacher who told her to go on.

And with hands behind her back, slowly she began to speak. And out from the mouth of a child, came words incredibly unique.

"My Daddy couldn't be here, because he lives so far away. But I know he wishes he could be, since this is such a special day.

And though you cannot meet him, I wanted you to know;
All about my daddy, and how much he loves me so.

He loved to tellme stories. He taught me to ride my bike.
He surprised me with pink roses. He taught me to fly a kite.

We used to share fudge sundaes, and ice cream in a cone. And though you cannot see him, I'm not standing here alone.

'Cause my daddy's always with me, even though we are apart. I know because he told me, he'll forever be in my heart."

With that, her little hand reached up, and lay across her chest. Feeling her own heartbeat, beneath her favourite dress.

And from somewhere in the crowd of dads, her mother stood in tears. Proudly watching her daughter, who was wise beyond her years.

For she stood up for the love of a man not in her life,
Doing what was best for her, doing what was right.

And when she dropped her hand back down, staring straight into the crowd. She finished with a voice so soft, but its message clear and loud.

"I love my daddy very much, he's my shining star.
And if he could, he'd be here, but heaven's just too far.

You see he was a fireman and died just this past year
When airplanes hit the towers and taught Americans to fear.

But sometimes when I close my eyes, it's like he never went away." And then she closed her eyes, and saw him there that day.

And to her mother's amazement, she witnessed with surprise. A room full of daddies and children, all starting to close their eyes.

Who knows what they saw before them, who knows what they felt inside Perhaps for just a second, they saw him at her side.

"I know you're with me Daddy," to the silence she called out. And what happened next made believers, of those once filled with doubt.

Not one in that room could explain it, for each of their eyes had been closed. But there on the desk beside her was a fragrant long-stemmed pink rose.

And a child was blessed, if only for a moment, by the love of her shining bright star.
And given the gift of believing that heaven is never too far.
Happy Fathers' Day Everyone.

I Love You Dad and Miss You-Mario

[ June 16, 2002, 04:31 PM: Message edited by: Mario VH ]