Ella’s Father: It’s just a few months, my darling. What would you like me to bring you home from abroad? Your sisters…uh, step sisters have asked for parasols and lace. What will you have?
Cinderella: Bring me the first branch your shoulder brushes on your journey.
Ella’s Father: That’s a curious request.
Cinderella: Well, you’ll have to take it with you on your way and think of me when you look at it. And when you bring it back, it means that you’ll be with it. And that’s what I really want.
(taken from a scene in Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Cinderella)
Take a close look at the photo above. What do you see? The waves crashing slowly against the beach? Two children inspired by one of nature’s wonders? I see that too. But I also see something that is not visible to the naked eye.
I see my wife. Each one of my children always carries with them a part of her. A branch from her. And there are no words to describe the beauty in that. The comfort in that.
Since I started blogging I have written more than two hundred pieces. The majority of them have been about my children. Oftentimes folks will comment on what amazing kids I have or what a great dad I am. And while I agree with the former and hope for the latter, there is more to the story.
The stories I have been telling are filled with unseen branches that my children and I carry with us at all times. Branches from a woman who everyday helps shape me into the father I am, and them into the children they are. These branches don’t show up in text. But trust me, they are there.
Everyone always comments that my daughter got her eyes from her mother. And I agree. But there is more to their eyes than their blue coloring. Both my wife and my daughter are able to see beauty where others can’t. Not only do they see the beauty in others, they are able to get others to see the beauty in themselves. They give branches freely, expecting nothing in return.
My four-year old son is a gift that we weren’t always sure was possible. But once he arrived, there was no mistaking it. He has his mother’s taste for the silly. Exactly what his, sometimes cranky-for-no-reason-dad needs. Driving home today from the beach he began to sing at the top of lungs. In a moment of complete and utter idiocy, I told him not to sing so loud. Tears ensued and I instantly realized that I was a fool. Without missing a beat my wife started the song over, turned the volume up and was able to restart what I had so hastily cut short. Lucky for my kids her branches are stronger than mine.
I have accomplished many things in my life, but by far my greatest accomplishment was convincing my wife to marry me. She made my life complete and just when I thought I needed nothing else she gave me two wonderful children that make waking up each morning a joy and a privilege that I am not certain I deserve.
My children and I carry her branches with us wherever we go. And we have many, for we brush shoulders quite often. We may not always realize how lucky we are, but we should.
So the next time someone brushes your shoulder, don’t hesitate to give them a branch or two. They may not be as pretty as a parasol or as soft as lace. But trust me, they’re worth so much more.
Dedicated to my amazing wife who is the best mother two children could have ever wished for.