Love is doing something for someone at great cost to yourself
The man's right foot, partially deformed from birth, dragged on the wet grass. The boy next to him, baseball glove in his small hand, danced with excitement. His bright eyes and happy face bounced from his father to the group gathered at the far end of the field.
The air was almost cold, the sun bright. Nervous sweat dropped from the man's armpits and ran in very small rivulets down his side. He wore sunglasses in order to hide. In the field or on the base he could never outrun the ball. He had always been the last chosen. He hated PE. There was no happiness within him, only memories of the shame and embarrassment.
The coach saw the man approaching with the boy. He held out his hand and introduced himself. The father smiled and uttered some words. Small talk was lost and there was an awkward silence, the man didn't know what to say or how to act.
The boy separated himself and went with the other boys. His father shuffled off alone. He sat aloof from the other parents watching their kids at the practice.
The boy had insisted on playing baseball. The man had taught him the little he knew. He had gone to the library for books to learn more. They watched baseball on television. He had nothing more to offer his son.
The man's terrified heart was in his mouth as he watched his son catch and throw. Each catch and throw was a place of risk. His hidden eyes blurred - his son threw and caught the ball well. His dark glasses hid water that welled up in his eyes.
At the end, his son joined the other boys. The coach singled his son out and said to the boy, "You know how to handle a ball."
The father trembled. He turned his head and slid off the stand and went to the bathroom to wash his tears. He returned, thanked the woman who provided the snacks. The coach waved at him. His son's hand in his, he walked back to the car. Most people walked faster. One of the boys gave his son a high five.
In school, the boy played varsity ball, but that first day and season seemed to go on forever.
Year later, through the experience of life, the grown boy understood. He went to his father's grave and dug a small hole in the dirt and left a plastic box with baseball cards in it and a note, "Thanks Dad."
Love is also to say, "Thank you."