Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I just finished the book The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. The story is told from the eyes of Enzo, a beloved and intelligent dog who shares a special bond with his master Denny.   Denny faces a slew of misfortunes beginning with the loss of his wife, then his job, then custody of his daughter.  I came across the following quote in which Enzo speaks fondly of Denny's dedication, drive, and conviction and how this makes him a champion:

"The sun rises every day. What is to love? Lock the sun in a box. Force the sun to overcome adversity in order to rise. Then we will cheer! I will often admire a beautiful sunrise, but I will never consider the sun a champion for having risen."

I love the message that this quote conveys, and I could not help but think of my father.  Dad was born with polio and doctors concluded that he would most likely never be able to walk on his own.  He spent most of his childhood in leg braces until one day, he took it upon himself to dismantle the metal contraptions, without my grandmother's consent, of course.  Determined to prove his nay-sayers wrong, Dad never wore his braces again, and by his teenage years, was the MVP of his track team. 

In high school, Dad faced another obstacle when he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, an incurable eye disease that leads to night, peripheral, and in advanced cases, central blindness.  Once again, Dad made the best of his situation. He taught himself how to play guitar, relying solely on sense of touch rather than visual recognition to learn the chords. 

Dad approached every obstacle with confidence and determination, never once complaining about the hand he was dealt. In the face of adversity, Dad more than succeeded, he excelled.  That, to me, made him a champion in every sense of the word. 


  1. Watching your father grow, I always took his gumption as a natural way to behave. I didn't realize growing up that not everyone is a fighter. It just seemed to be in our blood. Your grandmom was very strong willed, so Paul had to be stronger to have his own way. And he did it with a sense of humor...she couldn't possibly object to what he wanted. He was so darn cute. I remember when she began teaching him braille, I got a little scared. Paul and I were in your great grandmother's kitchen (also Mary Bontempo by name). I was washing dishes and he was drying. Ma came out of the bathroom after her bath. She was a very feisty, loud woman. Quite short, large breasted, wiry white afro head of hair. She had wrapped her over-sized towel around herself, but missed her breasts, which were hanging outside the towel. She came charging through the kitchen yelling orders as usual. When she left the room, I fell over in laughter but Paul just stood there in shock. I always believed that that was what cured his vision!

  2. Absolutely perfect <3 I love you always.