I first saw them last week at the beach while I was riding my bike, what appeared to be a father pushing his young son in a wheelchair along the bike path and then over the sand toward the ocean.
The redheaded boy had a big smile, as did his dad. A couple of days later, I was riding in the same spot and saw them again. They were making their way onto the sand, and when I noticed that the father was juggling a couple of bags while trying to help his son out of the wheelchair, I stopped to see if he needed any help.
We got to talking and I mentioned that I had seen them the other day and was struck by the powerful image of father helping son across the sand. Dario Covey, 42, started telling me his story as we walked across the empty beach behind 12-year-old Anthony.
Covey is an MRI technician who lives in Washington state, but he comes down to Huntington Beach every couple of months to spend time with his son, who lives here with his mom.
Anthony suffers from Angelman syndrome, which is a neuro-genetic disorder characterized by severe intellectual and developmental disability, seizures, sleep disturbances, frequent laughter or smiling and a usually happy demeanor. He also has cerebral palsy.
As we both watched the young boy crawl excitedly on his hands and knees toward the ocean, Covey told me that his son loves the beach and that it is good therapy for him. Being chased by the waves seems to make him happy, he explained, and even though Anthony can't speak, his various sounds and expressions seem to indicate joy.
Covey also shared that while Anthony cannot walk on his own, he does fairly well with assistance, but the seizures have been making things particularly tough, despite all the medications and therapy he receives.
We spoke a bit more before I left them to their beautiful afternoon by the sea, but the image of the two and this sacred bond was just so powerful that I thought it needed to be shared.
I rode my bike for about an hour or so in the opposite direction and on my return trip saw the pair again. This time they were back on the bike trail, probably more than a mile from where I originally had caught up with them. Covey was feeding his son a drink from a bottle of water.
This Thanksgiving, may we all remember those who raised us, nurtured us, fed us, cleaned us and dedicated themselves to making sure that our lives were all that they could be. And may we also give thanks to those who provide loving care to the children who have the greatest needs.
I know we all get caught up in our day-to-day lives and often don't think about the challenges that others face. But now, whenever I ride past the spot where I met Anthony and his dad, I will think about them and their special relationship, which was framed perfectly on a beautiful day in Huntington Beach.
The Roman philosopher Cicero said, "A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues."
Our family wishes yours a most peaceful and reflective Thanksgiving holiday.
(And please know how thankful I am for you reading this column each week.)