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November 28, 2011

My Papa's Lessons

A man's worth is measured by how he parents his children. What he gives them, what he keeps away from them, the lessons he teaches and the lessons he allows them to learn on their own.

My father was a special man, he had a way about him - a grandness of heart and kindness of character and wisdom I now know was beyond what most men his age have. He was the kind of father who would sit you down on the table, and while he fed you or put your socks on for school, he would tell you stories. Stories that end up buried in your soul, forever shaping you into the adult you are to become.
He told me countless stories - incredible ones, real ones, fictional one, ones you wanted to hear over and over again and ones you, at the time, thought were entirely pointless. 

 When I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, I remember eating something, something really really good, something I knew my dad really enjoyed too. Don't ask me what it was, I don't remember that detail. We shared a bit of it and half way through finishing it, my father no longer wanted any. He told me I should finish the rest of it. I felt bad, I knew he liked it just as much as me and boy, did I love my dad. So, I was willing to share the rest and insisted on him having more. And he insisted on refusing; kept telling me he was full and that I should have it. I told him I didn't believe him, how could he possibly be full. He said, "Every bite you take, makes me feel like I'm eating it too, so I am almost full!" How absurd, I thought. He kept insisting that as long as I was happy and full, he would be equally happy and full. He asked me if it would make me feel better if he pretended he was sharing with me. Oooook, I said, although none of his explanations made any sense to me. I continued eating and he took the opportunity to tell me a story. 

There was a man in prison once, a wrongly accused kindly old man of course, who ate the same tasteless boring food every day that he spent in prison. One day, the warden took pity on the old man and decided to move him from the cramped quarters he was in to one much bigger. 

The old man refused. The warden, astonished, asked him why on earth he would want to stay where he was. The old man told him it was because of the window high up on the wall. 

"But the window is so small and much too high for you to reach and get a view!" 

The old man smiled and replied, "Yes, but it doesn't stop the wonderful smells from coming in. You see, there must be a restaurant near by as everyday when the wind blows this way, it brings along with it the wonderful smells of the kitchen. When I gulp in the smells, I can feel like I am in the outside world enjoying a hot plate of delicious food. It keeps me going."

As interesting and quirky as I thought the old man was, I put this story in the pointless file and moved on. Today, that file resurfaced. 

Arissa's been sick; the changing seasons, a night outside all lead to a fever. She's Ok, but she had NO appetite the last couple of days. She just couldn't eat even though sometimes she wanted to. So, today when I made some vegan bolognese pasta, I made very little thinking she wouldn't have much. She ended up eating an entire bowl full. I tasted some from the little bit I had put aside for myself and thought it was pretty delicious. And just as I was about to start eating my portion, I stopped, covered the bowl with a lid and put it in the fridge. I really did want that pasta, especially because now that I make mostly vegan meals for myself its still hard for me to make one well enough that I don't miss the cheese or non-vegan aspect of the original dish and I could always make something else for Arissa tomorrow. But I put the bowl away and out of my mind. I kept it for Arissa, since she seemed to have enjoyed it so much. Then we had the last few squares of organic dark chocolate for dessert and I let her have it all, even though I was having a bluesy sort of day (I could have used some chocolate love) and even when my generous little angel kept offering me a bite.

As I thought about these tiny tiny sacrifices that I had made today, I realized I didn't crave the pasta or the chocolate, and I truly was happier and 'fuller' not having eaten them. That's when that memory of my father came back to me.

I wish he were here today, so I could remind him of that day and tell him how much I appreciate and understand that small sacrifice. How I now know he wasn't absurd for telling me he would be full if I finished it. How that story really didn't belong in the pointless folder because it helped me remember that one can be happy with what he has, appreciate what he has and make the most of what he has. It reminds me about positivity. Positivity and Sacrifice - both so crucial in wholehearted parenting.

Thanks Papa.


Anonymous said...

Came across your post. Woww really touched!! Arissa is very lucky to have a mom like you. I'm sure your dad would be really proud.

Antara said...

Aww, Thank you so much :)

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