Fathers and father figures are cornerstone people in our lives, especially at an early age. Your relationship with your parents and guardian figures can shape your outlook of the world, for better or worse.
One 8-year-old grew up associating his father with pain, and it wasn’t until decades later that he shared his full story, but once he did thousands were moved by his words.
His father was an alcoholic, and an angry one at that.
Throughout the boy’s childhood, he remembers his father drinking himself into a rage, and then beating the lights out of his mother while he and his younger sister hid in the basement.
But when he was 8 years old, they had an assembly at school that morning. They told everyone at school what 911 was for, and how to dial it if something bad was happening.
So he dialed 911—he didn’t remember what he said, or if he even said anything. He remembered leaving the phone off the hook as he tried to stand in front of his mother.
His father threw his mother through a wall in a drunken rage, and he was next.
“A short time later two cops busted through the door…probably after seeing my mother and I on the ground and my father screaming,” he shared on social media.
“I remember my father squaring up with the cops, and I remember my father leaving in the squad car as the ambulance came for us.”
The next thing he remembered, they were all in the hospital. The police officer came to finish his report, gave his sister a teddy bear, and it seemed that that was that.
“My father finally was out of our life after my mother had the guts and the police report to get an order of protection, then file for divorce and went out and got a job,” he wrote.
The aftermath seemed like such a quiet change of events, but everything was different now.
“I for the first time in my little life got to sign up for little league,” he wrote.
He was shy as an 8-year-old, and didn’t have any friends, but he was excited to meet the other kids who also wanted to play baseball. Everyone would try out, and the coaches would try to even out the teams so that they were at the same level of talent.
And he quickly realized he had no talent.
“My extent of baseball was having a mitt my mother got me and trying to throw a baseball in the air and catch it myself. I was beside myself with how bad I sucked,” he wrote. “We went home, and of course I knew I was going to be on a team, but I figured I would just ride the bench and or be a bother.”
He decided he would go anyway. So on the first day of practice, his mother takes him to the field. They get on the grass and meet the team—and the boy noticed that the coach was the cop that arrested his father.
“He never said anything, he never treated me any different from anyone else, he never approached my mother or anything, but he did orchestrate the other guys on the team and i to be in social situations together so I could make friends,” he wrote.
In fact, he was a welcome presence in a way.
“That short summer through being picked on a baseball team and having a coach that gave a [ ] completely changed my life.” And now he was no longer scared his father was going to show up during practice in a rage—because the man who arrested him was right there. “At the end of the season, probably because all the kids on the team begged him, he brought his squad car to the last game and let all of us have a turn sitting in the drivers seat and hitting the buttons.”
He inspired the boy. “I asked him if one day I could be a cop like him, he told me that I would be a good cop. Looking back, it’s pretty funny.”
Even after finishing little league, he would think back on this encounter.
At 17, his mother was working two jobs trying to make ends meet, and so he had graduated high school early and enlist in the armed forces. After getting out of active duty he joined the national guard then went to college—then took a police test for the same department that serviced the area he lived in as a child.
“The cop that changed our lives was retiring, and I went to his office and asked if he remembered me.”
“He smiled and said, ‘I told you you would be a good cop,'” he wrote.
“I look at my wife and kid and house and everything I have and it comes down to an 8-year-old boy that was scared of everything having a cop that gave a [ ] for a little league coach.”