I don’t do parades.
The one that winds through my city every summer? Used to pass less than a block away from my back door? Two times that I can remember. Both memorable for reasons completely unrelated to the parade.
The one that winds through my little rural community every August? Less than a block from my front door? Boring.
The one that winds less than a few feet from the front door or Macy’s every Thanksgiving?
Nope. I don’t do televised parades either.
Until this morning. In keeping with my new plan to devote more time (attempting) to enjoy the things my wife enjoys (with the possible exception of Angry Birds), I sat down and watched the Tournament of Roses parade. I knew it wouldn’t be intolerable. With the exception of Satan Paula Deen, there would be no celebrities, no hawking of new albums or movies or books. There would be no lip-syncing rappers or gaudily-choreographed dance numbers. Just oodles of marching bands and those amazing rose-petal and flax-seed-splattered floats.
I appreciated the commentary and the presentation. Neither were sensational. Sort of like watching the Masters Tournament. Respect and poise ruled the day.
And the things that tugged on my heart strings did so honestly. Like the Donate Life float. Called Seize the Day, it featured kites with tails bearing floragraphs of organ donors.
People who had died but who now live on, so to speak, in the bodies of others.
At first it was peripheral. Another float. Hannah Storm reading off her crib sheets information about the types of organic material used to flourish the kites and floragraphs. But then her voice changed. The slightest pause. A tremor. Probably my imagination, but I tuned in.
She told of five-year-old Katya Todesco, the girl who died, and of now-eight-year-old Kyle Martin, the real boy who lived. Thanks to her heart. Hannah told of how, when the families met for the first time, Katya’s family asked to listen to his heart beat. I imagined how each one might have put their ear gently to his chest, wrapped an arm around him to pull him close, and felt each ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump.
Her heart. Beating.
Hannah never lost her composure. Instead, I blubbered for her.
As human beings, we are capable of some amazing things. We can do stuff plants or animals or tubas or floats can’t do. We act. Intentions either precede and inform our actions or are assigned after the fact. Either way, good can come. Can be done. With purpose.
I am reminded today that I am human. And that being human makes things matter . . .