The Fathers

As I was going into E.’s basement to fetch my hose reel, I felt an urge to slow down and pay attention to the little scene unfolding on the street corner.  D. in a yellow cyclist vest was striding up to a little boy, age 6 or so, who was pushing his bicycle up the hill alongside his mom and older brother.  D. said to him in a gentle voice, “Did you have an accident?”  His mom answered yes, as the boy continued to cry.  D. bent his 6 foot tall frame down low to view the little boy’s scraped knee.  “You look like a tough guy,” he said to the boy who was now audibly crying.  “Stay on your bicycle.  Try it again.”  The little boy continued up the hill wailing as he went.

I don’t think D. even knew this little boy.  As I sat down to knit, I said a silent thanks for the sermon that D. had unknowingly preached to me about the divine, full of encouragement and tenderness.

A little while later, another dad approached wearing a baby in a front wrap, a dog on a leash, and a little boy trailing behind him.  “Can I sit on the bench for a few minutes?” he asked his dad.  “You can sit on the bench for a few seconds,” his dad replied.  The little boy clambered onto the bench.  He was wearing pink plastic clogs and a pirate ship T-shirt.  He was 3 years old, judging by his questions which came out like koans, difficult to answer.  “How would a fire truck park across the road?”  “Why is concrete hard?”

I asked him his name.  I think he said, “Gareth” but it came out, “Gaweth.”  I asked him what his brother’s name was…”Gaweth,” he said again.  Now I was very confused.  His dad explained patiently, “He doesn’t have a brother, this is his sister Eleanor.”  I looked up at his baby sister suspended in the wrap, her round eyes fixed in a expression of perpetual astonishment at the world.  She had wispy hair that floated in every direction.  Gareth pointed out the ants swarming around the bench…The hot weather must be bringing them up out of the earth.  I even found ants walking up the yarn like a tightrope, getting knit into the line.  “Come on, Gareth, let’s go have some pancakes,” the dad said and they proceeded down the hill together.

As I walked home on South Bay Trail, a man passed me pushing his pug in a dog stroller!


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