A tap on the shoulder changed everything.
Our son was struggling in middle school. But all it took was a tap on the shoulder and a few encouraging words by his running coach to chart a new course for his life’s direction. “Find a new group of friends and watch your running career take off.”
That same son, who was failing in his grades as a freshman, graduated high-school with a GPA this mother could smile about. All because a friend patiently tutored him to success.
Fast forward seventeen years as Walter Reed Hospital is about to graduate another class of Army prosthodontists. It’s with a parent’s humility that we applaud not only the dedication and perseverance of our son to achieve such accolades, but we stand in humble appreciation and gratitude at the tower of shoulders upon which he stands– those friends, family, coaches, mentors and pastors who poured into our son’s life along the way.
Sir Isaac Newton was once quoted as saying, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
Remembering a parent’s apprehension as our high-school graduate left home for college with a partial running scholarship then the military to climb this Mt. Everest dream of changing smiles as a dentist, a parent always wonders–while never saying it out loud–, “Did our nineteen-year-old dream too big?”
Yet we continued to cheer him on from the sidelines with our ongoing support for our dreamer, while he ran another race and climbed the next difficult mountain of his ambitions.
We can all look over our shoulders and realize the destinies we have arrived at are because of those who ran alongside us, sacrificing their time, patience, finances, wisdom, and the belief that they could make a difference in our life.
May we never stand on graduation day and think we stand alone. In deep humility, may we step aside so that the many shoulders we stand on come into full view and receive the applause and honor so due them.
Before our son adds a new credential to his name, I have reminded him to never forget those that sent care packages, guided, prayed or mentored him through those arduous years in college or deployment. That their seeds sown into his field become the driving force of his Life’s Mission Statement to forever pay it forward as a seed sower, so that others might be blessed as he has been blessed.
And to sear into his memory the years of sacrifice his wife and kids have paid to serve with him in the military. That the medals he received serving on foreign soil be shared as their medals for serving on the front lines of home without him, keeping a light burning in the window until his safe return.
To never take for granted when “country came first” the lonely stretches of time his platoon “holding down the fort” gave while serving with smiles and support, yet with the cost of many nights crying themselves to sleep missing their daddy and husband so terribly.
To never forget and be indebted for a lifetime, to that tower of shoulders upon which he stands, with a bit of wisdom to guide him,
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”-Albert Einstein