The Girl Who Refused to Fail, Even When Her Brain Did
She was three. She’d just been released from a distant hospital after life-threatening brain surgery, ready to take on the world again. I was just happy to have her back. Driving to the local mall, 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, “Okay honey, but just one.”
Her eyes beamed like the Fourth of July in anticipation of something that only she knew about at the time.
We drove around on a typical 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 all her might to swing the big doors open. No luck. With a little assistance, she did it. She took her mounting energy to 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.” The goal was set.
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. I walked. (Don’t you just hate it when parents let their kids run wild in public?) 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 and jumped with the kind of pure joy most of us have forgotten.
“Sure honey, but that will be your treat,” I explained. You’ve got to be firm with these kinds of things, you know.
I fumbled around in my pocket and pulled out what I think was a dime 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 little ball of energy in my life.
And then, like a shooting star, she flung the coin 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. Admittedly, I was uncomfortable. I couldn’t resist breaking it.
“Aren’t you gonna tell daddy what you wished for?”
She bluntly retorted, “I wished I could get an ice-cream comb.”
I just about lost it right then and there. I can’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. Still, each year she showed improvement. She is planning a career in early childhood education.
With one year still remaining in high school, one night not too long ago her and I 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 babysits the neighbor’s 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 this aside, she is an exceptional person—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 every person who reads it—as a human being, a parent, a spouse, an entrepreneur.
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.