<img src="http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y125/TheAnchoress/RudySam.jpg"(Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
Until recently, Rick carried Sammy up those 14 stairs to his bedroom each night. But a few months ago, Rick had major surgery for a life-threatening heart condition, and now he can’t lift much at all, let alone a 75-pound child.
“We thought Rick was going to die, and we were terrified,’’ Patty recalled. “We knew right away he had to stop carrying Sam.’’
Patty couldn’t carry him, either. Desperate, she called her pediatrician, who put her in touch with Elizabeth Paquette, the nurse at Malden Catholic High School. Paquette said she’d take care of it. The boys at Malden Catholic are taught to embrace service: She’d find plenty of students to help.
Rudy Favard was the first kid Paquette came across after that call. At Malden Catholic on a partial scholarship from the Catholic Schools Foundation, this son of Haitian immigrants was one of Paquette’s treasures. The linebacker, cocaptain of the football team and honor roll student was always willing to lend a hand.
The nurse had barely begun telling Rudy about the Parkers before he said he’d help. Another boy would fill in for Rudy on game nights. And a third boy was on standby in case neither of the others could make it.
And so Rudy had barely knocked on the door Tuesday night before Ben was at it, jumping up and down, yelling, “Rudy is here! Rudy is here!’’He greeted the Parkers, and went over to Sammy, gently lifting the boy’s left arm and sliding his hands under his back, the way Rudy’s father, a professional caregiver, had shown him. He lifted Sammy and held him close to his chest, and as the boy made his joyful O, Rudy carefully maneuvered him around the corners on the narrow stairway.
You couldn’t help but be struck by the painful contrast between the two boys: The robust athlete cradling the pale, helpless child; the young man preparing to go out into the world carrying someone who never will.
It’s a comparison lost on nobody, least of all Rudy himself.
“Can I ask you something?’’ he said, sitting in the Parkers’ living room after Sammy was asleep. “Is it OK if this article is more about Sam than me?’’
“He’s done more for me than I’ve done for him,’’ Rudy said. “There are times when I don’t want to go to practice, and then I look at Sam. By God’s grace, I can do what I’m doing, so I should keep it up. I’ve never been one to complain a lot, but just seeing Sam reaffirms everything, you know?’’
This 17 year-old athlete gets what some of us need a lifetime to understand.
Read the rest here. A great story for Christmas.