Written and submitted by Rick Beneteau
Editor's Note: "Comb" is not a typo.
She was three. Just released from a far-away hospital after life threatening brain surgery, ready to take on the world again. I was happy just to have her back. My little "Mr. Clean" (shaven head and hoop earrings) and me driving along to our local mall. Hanging out with dad day.
I recall her words as if it were yesterday.
"Daddy, can I get a treat?"
As she was understandably spoiled (if there is such a thing), I replied "OK honey, but just ONE".
Her eyes beamed like the Fourth of July in anticipation of that something only she knew at the time.
We drove around to the new end of the mall on the normal seek-and-destroy mission of capturing a parking place. After all, it was Saturday. We landed a fair distance from our destination, and began walking hand-in-hand towards the entrance, her pace gaining momentum with each tiny step. A few feet from the doors she broke loose and ran hands-first into the thick wall of glass, trying with everything she had to swing the big doors open. No luck. With a little assistance, she 'did it' and tried the very same thing at the second set of doors.
It was then that I asked her what she wanted for her treat. Without hesitation, she matter-of-factly said "an ice cream comb from the ice cream store." OK, the goal was set and we were in the mall!
But hold on! What was this? At the end of what was just an ordinary looking lane of retail chain outlets she spied something new-- this huge fountain, water shooting who knows how high into the air. The new goal line!
She ran, and I walked (don't ya just hate it when parents let their kids run wild in public?), and we arrived at the spectacle at about the same time. The turbulent noise was almost deafening.
"Daddy, can I make a wish, can I make a wish?" she screamed as she jumped with the kind of pure joy we've all long since forgotten.
"Sure honey, but that will be YOUR TREAT you know" I explained (gotta be firm with these kind of things).
I fumbled around in my pocket and pulled out what I think was a dime (big spender) and placed it in her outstretched hand. She cupped it tightly, closed her eyes and grimaced, formulating her wish. I stared at that little scrunched-up face and said my own kind of prayer of thanks, feeling so blessed to still have this ball of energy in my life. And then like a shooting star, the coin was flung into the foaming water and with it, her wish.
We happily continued our stroll into the familiar section of the mall. An eerie silence ensued, which I was admittedly uncomfortable with. When I just couldn't stand it anymore, I couldn't resist breaking it.
"Aren't you gonna tell daddy what you wished for?"
She retorted "I wished I could get an ice cream comb."
I just about lost it right then and there. Couldn't imagine what the shoppers thought of this lunatic laughing uncontrollably in the middle of a crowded mall. And needless to say, she got her wish, and two treats.
Little did I know then that my beautiful little girl would soon embark on a long road of seizures, surgeries, special schools, medications and end up partially paralyzed on her right side. She never learned to ride a bike.
Today, she is almost seventeen. She cannot use her right hand and walks with a noticeable limp. But she has overcome what life seemed to so cruelly inflict on her. She was teased a lot and always struggled in school, both socially and academically. But each year she showed improvement. She is planning a career in early childhood education. With one year still remaining in high school, she and I, one night not too long ago, mapped out all the courses she would need to take in community college. It was her idea. She volunteers weekly at a local hospital, on the children's floor. She baby-sits a neighbors children five days a week. On her own this year, she stood outside in line for four hours on a cold Canadian January afternoon and enrolled herself, with her own babysitting money, into two courses she felt she would need for college.
You see, to her failure was never an option.
It would almost be redundant for me to explain why I wanted to share this story with you. She IS my daughter and I carry all those fatherly biases with me wherever I go. But these aside, she is a very exceptional person and one that I admire and have learned a lot from.
It is my sincerest hope that her story will have even a momentary positive impact on you as a human being, a parent or a spouse.
I'd like to leave you with a closing thought. As human beings, we deserve all the treats, and the multitude of good things that life can offer us. We all have wishes and dreams, AND the power to make them reality. Just simple truths of the universe.
We can wish for, and get, that ice cream comb.