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Daddy's Brightest Star

Pete Loftis
Special Delivery, the Newsletter of the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville
Spring 1998
  Reprinted with permission

On this New Year's Eve we walked out to the beach under thousands of stars. We laid on our backs, shoulder to shoulder, gazing up at the stars, telling stories.

We started a game of naming the stars after our favorite friends and family members. Tate would name several people and say, "Daddy, your turn." He selected the brightest star should be named for him. Tate conceded. He liked being the brightest star.

Tate Loftis As a father to Tate I often wonder now if people who observe us together really understand how lucky I am to be his Dad. Do they have a clue? What do they see? Let me tell you what they would see if they were looking through my eyes.

A seven year old boy who is almost pretty, with his mother's face, sweet little eyes and a quiet confidence about him. He is a people magnet. He jumps from the school bus running with arms out screaming "Daddy, Daddy." Times spent one on one with Tate are often filled with laughter. I love his laugh.

He steps outside and says, "hi guys" to the little friends who come over to play soccer and chase each other around. Tate seems to be unaware of how small he is. His friends don't care either. They seem to allow him to be the boss in his own yard. The activities circle around him as he directs the soccer drills. He does not tolerate fooling around while playing soccer - everyone must focus.

Homework is done with great diligence. The computer is his friend. He is an excellent listener who constantly strives to improve. Reading, writing and counting are fun to practice with a positive attitude and enthusiasm.

The yellow belt in karate and trophies in soccer are not as important to him as the relationships he develops with other kids. He enjoys hiking in the woods, riding on the golf cart, making two-foot putts on the practice green with his sawed off putter. We spend endless evenings kicking the soccer ball, throwing the football and running on the beach with the dogs.

When he says "morning" every day starts off on a positive note. When I read him a story at bedtime and we say the Lord's Prayer, every evening ends with an innocent sweetness. Sometimes I lay beside him and watch him sleep.

Tate instills great confidence in me. In his opinion my singing is a work of art. My jump shot is as good as any Chicago Bull. Every fish I catch is big. Every cheese egg I cook is superb. When my seven iron slices into the water he is undeterred, saying "what happened Daddy?" as if a sudden gust of wind blew the ball in the water. There's no wonder why he is my best friend.

When Tate was born I comforted his Mom and pretended to be as proud as any new father would be. My father told me soon after Tate was born, "son, you must be very proud to have this little boy." I really wasn't but pretended to be. Tate is seven now and I quit pretending many years ago. A good friend told me this child was given to us for a reason. What did they see that I didn't?

There are many things I would change in my life if I could do it all over again. Tate is not one of those things. He is my brightest star.

Revised: June 26, 2004.