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The following was published by the Boston Globe. I often share this reading with a Sociology Unit on family. A great story for Father’s Day!
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BEVERLY BECKHAM : A son’s adoration is a fleeting thing January 29, 2006
He had a loud voice, something that normally would have made me cringe. A loud talker on an airplane is always annoying. And when the loud talker is in the row opposite you? And the flight is nearly full and there is nowhere to run?
This is a prescription for a long flight.
But this loud talker wasn’t a business person on a cellphone, making sure you hear every word. Or some teenager bragging to a friend — ”So she was, like, amazing, you know?” — wanting attention, wanting to be overheard.
This loud talker was a boy of 8 or 9 who wanted the attention not of all the people around him but of the one person who mattered most to him: his father.
”Dad! Dad! Is this plane ride farther than Puerto Rico?”
”Dad! Dad! Did you buckle your seat belt?”
”Dad! Look out the window. Did you see that?”
The child was seated in the row behind his dad  — four family members traveling together, a father, a son, and twin daughters who were just a few years older than the boy.
The father, a big man, sat in the middle seat next to one daughter. His son and the other daughter sat behind him.
Both girls were quiet. One leaned her head against the window and read a book. The other wore headphones and listened to music. The father, God bless him, kept attempting to read some thick business magazine. But his son would have none of it.
”Dad! Dad! Did you feel that bump?” he said as the plane took off.
”Dad! Dad! Look over there,” he said as the plane climbed.
”Dad! Dad! Where are we now?” he said 60 seconds into the flight.
It went on like this, as coffee was served, and snacks — ”Dad, what are you gonna have?” — a never-ending litany of Dads.
And in this child’s voice there was only love.
There was love in the father’s responses, too. He turned and answered every one of his son’s questions. He was patient. And his eyes were kind.
”Dad. Are you going to watch the movie?” the boy asked after the snacks were cleared. ”Do you know what the movie is?”
And then the movie began. And for maybe a minute the boy was silent.
But then came a whisper. ”Dad?” But it wasn’t the whisper of a boy in church or a boy in school. It was a big, stage whisper, loud enough to be heard all the way in the back row, and in this case all the way in the plane’s back seats.
”Dad. I want to sit next to you,” the boy said.
I want to sit next to you. I want to be near you because movies are better with you beside me. Because looking out a window is better. And eating pretzels. Because everything is better with you, Dad.
It’s a short time in a lifetime that a boy adores his dad. But here it was. And there I was, witnessing it.
Whatever the father said, the boy sat back and watched the movie and was silent.
But when it was finished, as the credits rolled, the father stood up and climbed over the stranger sitting in the aisle seat next to him and into the empty aisle seat beside his son.
And after that, the boy’s ”Dads” were hushed.
”Dad,” he said. And this time you had to strain to hear him. ”Dad, I see mountains under the clouds. Look, Dad. Isn’t that so cool?”
And there was awe in the boy’s voice, not only because of what he was seeing but also because he was seeing this with his father.
Too soon, the boy will be wearing headphones and ignoring Dad. Too soon he’ll be too big to say, ”I want to sit next to you.” It’s only for now that it’s ”Dad, what do you think?” and ”Dad, the lady’s collecting the garbage.”
Such a simple thing, love. A long flight was made shorter by this boy and his father.