Noah, in photo above, on the beach in Newport, Oregon
Welcome to 2TheHeart!
"If there are a hundred steps in thy path to success, and ye have not reached it in ninety-nine of them, do not conclude that the journey is a failure."-Lancelot
This will be our last issue of 2TheHeart for a few months.I wanted to share one last story of my own with you, which I wrote last weekend when Noah and I visited Oregon to check out the deaf school there. I decided to name this story "Making a Difference" because that is the principle 2TheHeart was founded upon, and what I believe is the purpose of each of us during our time on earth.I have been so moved by your letters, letting me know you are praying while I am facing so much with Noah, baby Ian, and moving.Thank you from the bottom of my heart!I look forward to returning and sharing more inspiring stories as soon as I can!Remember to visit 2theheart.com often to read previous stories and have a "spirit lift" when you need one! I will miss you!
"Making a Difference"
by Susan Farr Fahncke
"I wish I could play football", my eight year-old signed to me, his blue eyes wistfully watching the man and his son.
Sitting on our balcony above the beach in Newport, Oregon, Noah and I were watching the lone football players brave the wind a nd rain.Oblivious to the storm, the man and his son were clearly having a wonderful time, chasing each other over the sand and tossing the football back and forth.
Alone for the weekend, Noah and I were splurging on a room right on the beach, enjoying amazing sunsets and typical Oregon rainstorms, our fireplace keeping us warm while we stared at the crashing waves and discussed life in general and most importantly, his wish to play football.I decided that a distraction was in order.
"Let's go to the pool!" I offered.Taking a last longing look at the man and boy with the coveted football, Noah agreed and ran off to put on his trunks and grab his beach towel.Seeing him emerge twenty-two seconds later, I realized how big my little guy has gotten and also realized maybe it was time to replace his Thomas the Train towel with something more sophisticated.Like Darth Vader. Or Dale Earnhardt Jr.Sighing, I reflected how boys grow into men, but still seem to keep a tight hold on their inner child.I really wished I had a football for Noah.
I signed to Noah (Noah is deaf and we use American Sign Language to communicate.) "Ready?", to which he answered with the hotel room door slamming in my face.
We hit the pool, which served as a decent distraction for an hour, and then I was thinking really wasn't too early for bedtime.I signed to Noah "five more minutes", and he made the usual "awww, Mom", face and set about getting his last five minutes.
Feeling a cold burst of air, I looked over at the door to see the man, the boy and the football, all coming in together.I glanced over at Noah.Noah saw them too and immediately his face lit up, his hands flying furiously. "It's the football people!" he signed."They brought their football in!" I knew what was coming next, but didn't want to intrude on the father and son's time together."Can I play with them?" his blue eyes begged.
"No, sweetie - we have to go soon. And they don't know sign language."I hate having to say that all the time.It's a fact of his life, unfortunately.Most of the people he meets every day don't sign, so Noah's world is sometimes limited by this constant barrier.
Crestfallen, Noah turned his back to me and as he does more often than a little boy should have to, he settled for sitting on the sidelines. My heart ached at my darling son's quiet acceptance at having to be alone so often. Noah chose to stay in the pool a few minutes longer, so I dried off and wrapped up in a towel, slipping into a nearby chair with a magazine.
As is my habit, I glanced up every minute or two, just to check.You know, a Mom thing.A nervous-mom-with-a-deaf-child thing. I have learned to never, ever rest my paranoia.So much can happen to a child in the blink of an eye.Take a child who cannot hear and multiply that fear a thousand times over.That's me.
The man and his son had jumped in and were now tossing the football across the pool, laughing and splashing happily.My son stood on the fringes, grinning as he watched their beach game continue right in front of him.
When I looked up again, I was startled.Without a sound, without a question or even a word, the man and his son had simply started including Noah in their game.I couldn't believe my eyes and I grinned all the way up to my eyebrows.Laughing together, the three of them formed a triangle and tossed it from the man to his son, his son to Noah, then Noah to the man and so on.They played like that for nearly an hour, laughing, teasing, splashing and never a word was said.It was the universal language of kindness, of a family reaching out to a little boy with that "I wanna play ball, too" look on his face that somehow must be in the male genetic makeup and only other males can sense.They quietly moved over and made room for my son; a simple gesture of inclusion, of friendship that made a little boy's day - maybe even his week.I know it made mine.
It grew late, and as we gathered our things up to go, I walked over to the father and son who I now viewed with different eyes.They were quiet heroes, the kind who do wonderful things and often have no idea they have.Little acts of kindness like theirs are the silent miracles of everyday Good Guys who make the world a better place.
"I just wanted to thank you for letting my son play football with you", I said with a mom's thrilled-to-the-core grin.
I explained that we had seen them earlier on the beach, how Noah had dearly wanted to play catch, and how much I appreciated their including him."He wanted me to tell you he had fun", I said.It was hard to articulate just what this meant to me.Having a child who is very often left out of the fun, tears sprang to my eyes and I wanted to make them understand."He is deaf.Well, you probably knew that." I got a catch in my throat and stopped while I fumbled for the words.
Father and son looked at each other in surprise. "He is?" the father sounded genuinely shocked."We didn't know.He's a fun kid! Good arm, too!"
Noah signed "thanks!" and we both said goodbye to our new friends.I blinked away my tears and smiled at my very happy child, who was skipping and signing so fast I couldn't keep up, telling me all about his new friends, how much fun he had, how funny it was to throw the ball right in front of the man and make it splash him.I watched him babble with joy and thought my heart would burst.
As we walked back to our room, I reflected on how just a little kindness can go a long, long way.Reaching out to include a kid in a game, a simple smile, a little friendship can make an enormous difference.I am certain Noah will remember this night for a very long time.He was accepted, included, language didn't matter.I immediately sat down at my laptop to capture this memory.He is still glowing and laughing and happy and I am so grateful to two strangers who opened their arms and shared so much more than a game of catch.
Susan Farr FahnckeCopyright 2006 all rights reserved
I am the founder an d editor of 2TheHeart and Angels2TheHeart! I also teach online writing workshops, but most importantly, I am Mom to Nick, Maya, Noah and Ian, and "udder mudder" to Brandie.I am the author of Angel's Legacy, the co-author and contributor to many other books, including the 2TheHeart book.I have a story in a new book coming out next month "Small Acts of Grace".
The Letter Box:
Sooz, is there any way you can make it a requirement that Barb Roney submits a story to your website at least every few weeks? I love the way she writes...so clear and vivid and about true-to-life things that we can identify with. Thanks for publishing her "First Time Grandma" story today!
Sandi Pound in Florida
Annettee's story, "When Duty Calls," carries the same gentle, committed tone that so much of her writing displays. I truly enjoyed the latent conflict between duty and the need for peace, and the important choice she made. Bo th the walk, with the nature details, and the service at the hospital and with the child were well told. Annettee's writing is a joy to read.
Mary-Ellen Grisham, IL
The story When Duty Calls by Annettee Budzban was a wonderful story about two wonderful people who were not afraid to get involved. Bless them both.
I will be missing 2theheart while you are taking care of your family. Of course there should be nothing that would keep you away from doing so. I hope you know while you are away from all of us that our thoughts and prayers will always be near you, for your family, for Ian and Noah and especially to keep you strong as you care for your most precious ones.
"When Duty Calls" was certainly a beautiful story, and brou ght home the FACT that if we truly love our "duty", we will always put it before our own selfish desires. We need to be reminded of that once in awhile--it's the only way to truly serve the Lord.
Also, Susan, I will miss the stories you send out, but certainly your family needs to come first. I wish you God Speed in meeting all the challenges before you, and know that He will be at your side guiding you as He would have you go. We will all be thinking of you.