A story from The Push. (Excerpted from A Cup of Comfort.)
When mother of four Susan Farr-Fahncke decides to take her children to a bowling alley on an outing, she is inspired by a "bowling alley hero."
The "I wants" and "I can'ts," the fidgeting and teasing, and the shenanigans and bickering were quickly escalating. I was irritated with my two-year-old for repeatedly taking out his hearing aids and having to constantly chase after and retrieve him. I didn't take my eyes off my seven and thirteen-year-olds either; they required almost as much supervision as my toddler. At the moment, they were "bugging" each other, and I could feel a brawl coming on. I was grumbling shamelessly to myself and thinking that "family time" wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
Then I saw a father two lanes over with his two children-both were in wheelchairs.
I looked at my squabbling kids and back to his. His children had no motor control; they couldn't even hold the bowling ball. At the moment, mine were threatening to throw balls at each other.
I watched with amazement as the man patiently set up the special ramp used for disabled bowlers. I'd never realized before what a significant obstacle that step down into the bowling alley could be in a wheelchair. I'd never thought about how you could bowl if you had no control over your arms. My greatest bowling instruction challenge-teaching my child how to throw the bowling ball without pitching himself down the lane-paled in comparison. I watched in stunned admiration as the man placed an elevated apparatus, like a ski jump with runners, at the front of the lane each time it was one of his children's turns to bowl. He'd position the bowling ball at the top of the slope, gently place the child's hand on the ball, and discretely add a little "umph" to the push that sent it rolling down the alley.
To each child he spoke very softly, bending down to their eye level, gently instructing, encouraging, and cheering, never losing patience or resenting the effort it took to help them bowl. He didn't seem to mind. In fact, he was genuinely having a blast and his eyes sparkled with love.
What in heaven was I doing, fretting and complaining, unable to enjoy a good time with my children? Four rambunctious children, one with impaired hearing, was not a huge burden in the grand scheme of things. This man had made an afternoon of bowling into a magical day, and he was enjoying and cherishing every moment-in sharp contrast to the attitude with which I had approached this outing.
I wish I had the guts to go up to him and say what I was thinking, "I think you are an incredible person, and your kids are angels, and you impress and inspire me." But he left.
"If you're out there, man from the bowling alley, thank you for your shining example. Thank you for reminding me to love my children a little more. Thank you for your humble lesson in love. You are a hero."