I fight with my parents on an all too regular basis. We fight on all sorts of topics, from the people I hang out with to the food I eat for breakfast, from the amount of time I spend on the phone to the clothes I wear to school. My dad is willing to say whatever he needs to say to me in order to make his point; my mom, despite having less proficiency with the English language, knows how to take absolute control of any verbal exchange. She refuses to lose an argument. While these aspects of our relationship can annoy, frustrate, or even anger me, these arguments, and their words, have become hollow, drowned out by what is more important: actions.
I believe that what my parents do for me is more important than anything they can say to me. It is easy to tell someone how important he is, or how much he is appreciated, but not just anyone is willing to go the extra mile and prove it. I believe that actions are what define a relationship; words lack meaning and significance in comparison.
Sure, we fight often. Sure, we yell, scream, stomp our feet, slam doors, etc. Yet for as long as I can remember, they have been there for every baseball game, dedicating a great deal of time to supporting me in my passion. They are there at every ceremony, every event, willing to sacrifice hours of their own time for my endeavors. They are my help in getting through difficult or stressful times, even when my stress may be caused by one of our arguments.
One Saturday several months ago, my dad came home from his usual game of golf and told me he had a present for me. I was pretty skeptical, wondering what decent present he could have for me with no reason, no purpose. He showed me a poster he had made for me, filled with pictures of me playing baseball next to similar pictures of professional players, including Mariano Rivera and Justin Verlander, two of the great active pitchers in the Major Leagues. I was awestruck. It absolutely made my day, and the happiness I experienced then continues today.
Before every single baseball game, I impulsively look to the stands. My parents are always there. As soon as I see them sitting in the front row, I forget any argument we may have had, regardless of what we said. Such a simple act of caring, spending a couple hours at a field watching my game, utterly erases any hostile words we have exchanged. This simple act, like others before it, makes all the difference.
I believe every person can make such a difference. Whether it is helping a friend to recover from a loss, making amends for wronging him, or just brightening his day, a clichéd statement, an apology, or a compliment will fail where a simple act of goodness may succeed.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.