Monday, December 12, 2005

Toot, Toot*

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* trains in this post. In this case, "toot" refers to the Hebrew word for "strawberry" !

A short while ago, while washing some strawberries for my kids' school lunches, I had a flashback that took me back about 22 years. When I relay this story, you might be thinking to yourselves, "How pathetic...what a daddy's girl she is." or "What a baby she was." But believe you me, the daddy's girl aspect is something to definitely envy, not make fun of. The special treatment I might have gotten might not always have been appreciated by me, but in hindsight, that treatment is something to be revered.

Back to the strawberries...

Some 22 years ago, I had a job as a summer student at a Jewish agency in Toronto. I was updating community information and data, and doing so held my interest. One day, it was lunchtime, and I was on the phone talking to my mother. At that point in time, there were some very serious issues going on in my family, which took our attention and worry. That particular day, those serious issues had some more fuel added to the fire, and as my mother relayed the news, it was clearly very upsetting for her to tell me, and for me to hear the news. After talking some more, I asked, "Where's Dad?" (he'd already been pretty much retired by then, due to illness) My mother said, "I don't know. He went out and didn't say where he was going."

I wondered if he'd gone out of the house, further distressed over the news my mother had relayed, and wondered what emotional state I'd find my parents in when I came home in the evening.

Not long after I finished the conversation with my mother, the main door to the agency's office slowly opened...and in walked my father, a bowl in hand, a smile on his face. He had brought me beautiful strawberries that he'd washed and de-stemmed for me at home. At the moment I was slightly embarrassed -- Here I am, a 22 year old woman, and my father is bringing me washed strawberries? Maybe he wants to chew them for me, too, the embarrassed and cynical Pearl thought to herself. But a moment later, as I bit into those berries, I thought of what a selfless thing my father had just done. He'd prepared the treat for me, gotten into the car and traveled at least 20 minutes one way to deliver it to me. Doing so gave him a simple pleasure, while at the same time, perhaps took his mind off more serious, critical issues in our home.

A simple act like the one he performed that summer day in 1983 carries such weight; I can't imagine that he remembers that particular trait of "giving" that he demonstrated that day, but I certainly do and no doubt always will.

I've mentioned my father in previous posts over this past year... and it's only because I don't know any one on this earth who surpasses his goodness, his sense of selflessness, his generous and giving nature. He is my tzaddik, my mentor, a truly one-of-a-kind father...and I'm so glad that he is mine!