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Two winners on Tuesday

A red letter day for our family on Tuesday.

Clara’s middle school promotion ceremony was beautiful. She and her select group of acapella singers opened the event by singing the national anthem, and about half an hour later, she received her certificate of promotion from middle school.

We also knew that Clara would receive an award of some kind because a letter was sent home a week before alerting us that she had been chosen for a special honor. The program handed to us at the door listed about two dozen awards that would be given out that morning, so I scanned the list to see what award she would most likely receive. The writing award seemed most likely given her affinity and skill, but I thought the best award was the Humanitarian Prize, given to a student for “demonstrating in a significant and sustaining way, service to others and concern for fellow human beings.”

My thought when I saw that award was this:

“Whatever kid gets that award is someone I want in Clara’s life.”

Then she won the prize.

What a beautiful moment for Clara. Maybe an even better moment for Elysha and me.

Actually, the first best moment of the morning came when Clara received her promotion certificate. They announced her name:

“Clara Susan Dicks”

I hadn’t expected to hear her middle name – my mother’s name – and I was instantly overtaken with emotion. It felt as if my mother was quietly attending the ceremony, too.

Mom died in 2007, two years before Clara was born, so hearing my mother’s name and thinking about the role she played in getting me to that place, at that time, was both unexpected and a little overwhelming.

Quite a morning for our family.

Later in the day, Charlie played in the Little League championship game. In his final at-bat of the season, he singled down the third base line, stole second, and scored on a hit by a teammate.

Nevertheless, his team lost 12-6, which was disappointing, of course, but Charlie hustled for the entire game, constantly patted his teammates on the back, and relentlessly encouraged them, which was better than watching him win. I was rooting for a victory, of course, but I think you can learn a hell of a lot from losing – perhaps a lot more than from winning – and I think that was the case for Charlie on Tuesday night.

Still, winning would have been pretty great.

Charlie’s Little League teams have played in three championship games in the six seasons that he’s played and have yet to win a title. They also played an entire season without winning a single game, so his Little League experience has been quite interesting.

But it’s not the baseball that’s important. Character, spirit, teamwork, and sportsmanship are what matter most, and Charlie has learned so much of this while swinging the bat.

Clara won the best award on Tuesday morning.

Charlie lost his chance at winning a title that evening.

But it felt like everyone in our family won on Tuesday.

A day we won’t forget.