It’s an old picture on my computer: I open it and see my daughter, her expressive face, caught on camera doing her TV show. She was an anchor for one of the better known TV channels till she got married two years ago and moved to New York, where again she’s trying to pursue a TV career.
But it’s not to praise her or boast about her I write this piece; it’s about another picture, in the archives of my mind I want to pull out for you to see.
Many moons before she got on TV. She’d just recovered from a severe bout of jaundice and quite weak. It was the school’s annual sports day: My wife and I had gone to see her run the 400 metres.
‘She’s still weak!’ my doctor wife had told me, and I’d looked across the field at the huddle of girls who were going to try and win, mine looked pathetically small. ‘Why was she trying?’ I wondered, and then as was in most cases, she felt my glance and waved, I half waved back, my sad heart not in the gesture.
The whistle blew, the girls were off.
She was last, I felt a soundless sob, it was mine. I loved her so much and couldn’t understand why she’d wanted to try. ‘It’s the sickness!’ said my wife and I nodded. The girls were on the far side, I could barely see the turn, and then I felt the sudden silence.
The silence of the spectacular: A little girl had got past the sprinter who was coming second last, and then as I watched, the sob now coming out more vocally, I saw her run past the next, and the next runner.
She was now just a few metres behind the girl who was coming second, and then with a powerful thrust of her lithe body, her little legs surged forward and she was past the finishing line.
My little girl had come second.
“How did you do it?” I asked as I hugged her.
“I saw you watching, dad!” she said, “and I remembered every word you’d told me, that I can if I think I can!”
Yes, my little child I whisper as I look at the photo of the TV show, “You remembered those words I often repeated to you, that Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man, but sooner or later the one who wins is the one who thinks he can!”
Somewhere in New York, she now pits herself against the world’s best, to get back on TV, and I know she whispers to herself, “Yes I can..!”
And she will.