Photo by Jessica Fry.

A picture worth no words at all

By Matt Reese

To say “I love you” in sign language you must put up your thumb, index finger and pinkie finger, while keeping your ring finger and your middle finger down. Then, hold your hand out with your palm facing away from you and move it back and forth slightly.

Though you may not be able to quite see it in this photo, that is the message being conveyed by father Matt Fry on the tractor in the field and his son, Matthew, on the other (smaller) tractor in the yard. The toy tractor was Matt’s when he was a boy.

Matt produces row crops and cattle on his farm near Bellville with his father. Both Matt and his wife, Jessica, are deaf. They have two children, twins, who can hear. Jessica took the photo and Matt’s mother, Donna Smith, posted it online in late May. That’s where I saw it.

Even if you cannot see their fingers, or do not know the first thing about sign language, the sentiment they are expressing is very evident between the father and son. This year, Father’s Day is June 21, just around the corner. It seems like a great year to really celebrate the fantastic fathers (and mothers and grandparents) in our lives. Good parents are a true blessing and an unbelievable gift from God. Such a blessing can be commemorated with a simple “I love you.”

With that in mind, just stop for a moment and look again at this picture…

Photo by Jessica Fry.

You needed that, didn’t you?

This picture offers powerful connection anyone with agricultural ties can relate to: a busy planting season amid challenging conditions beyond human control, but not too busy for a moment to express love and the special bond between a father and son on a generational farm. The vast majority of the world’s population has little idea about the farming specifics in this photo, but everyone can relate to the love being shown.

As I scrolled through my digital newsfeed of violent protests and riots, COVID calamity of every sort, frustration due to a slow return to normal, collapsed commodity prices, and endless economic woes (the list certainly goes on), this picture leapt off of my computer screen. Love, hate, and any of the current challenges — none are new. Sometimes, though, the bad can be overwhelming, but the good can be overwhelming too. Love, after all, never fails when all else does.

With plentiful public hatred amid racial-, virus- and fear-fueled turmoil in recent weeks, love matters as much as ever. In a world with so much modern noise, and so many photos (and videos) worth 1,000 words 10,000 times over, maybe we’d all be better served to work a little harder at speaking love in volumes like Matthew Fry and his Daddy: very clearly, with no words at all.

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