Of course our stories – your story, my story, the story of the drunk down in Apartment 8 –are all pretty much the same, that is they are all stories of human beings trying to get by in one way or another.
I was reminded of this last night when Liz, my oldest, performed in her school’s show “Olivia.”
The show at this international school was a twist on “Oliver Twist” and “Annie” and plenty of its characters – the cast of kids was about 70 – were shabby orphans, including Olivia, the one soul who was somehow a little less shabby and enough of an outsider that she could help save the day.
“She’s a star,” said one teacher that morning when I dropped the three kids off for class. “You’re going to be in for a real treat tonight,” said another.
And when I later sat in the front of the auditorium with a few hundred others, parents and kids from all over the world, really, and watched Liz do her thing with several solos and well over 100 liines, I could barely recognize my little girl.
Watching your 10-year-old find her voice in this sort of way would make any dad proud. But there’s more.
For one, through various ways and unknown to the play’s organizers, Liz has spent the last several weeks raising some 300,000 Ugandan Shillings, that is about $120, for Christmas gifts for a local Ugandan orphanage.
And for two, I was once very familiar with another story about a bunch of orphans looking for a better life. In this story, a couple of them, a little boy named Faith and a little girl named Hope, set out into the danger to find a mom and dad for everyone.
It wasn’t a particularly perfect story, but I suppose it came from the heart, that is my own heart of a couple of decades ago, long before I could imagine being a dad in, of all places, Africa — including of an adopted girl — and long before I could imagine one day watching my daughter lead a show about a different bunch of orphans.
But this is the strange truth of it, how some stories can be as true as our lives. Sometimes even truer.
We jumped in the car for the longish ride home after last night’s show when the message from Timothy’s mother came into my phone.
“Mr. Thom, we’re on our way back home. Thanks 4 praying and caring for us.”
Thank you for your own prayers for Timothy, the Ugandan who just spent his 15th birthday in hospital as part of his fight with cancer, something I shared here.
To correct from that original version, Timothy went into hospital several days before his birthday, not on the actual day, which made this particular stay about a week.
Liz and Jon and Hannah have picked up a few things to make a gift for Timothy .
Timothy’s gift to us is his continued presence.