A son learns a valuable lesson in compassion, kindness, and understanding from the way he sees his father treat his mother.
Joey couldn’t understand what was going on in his house. His mom, who was always this really together person with a thousand things on the go and time to spare to catch him out on every trick was different.
She was just not herself. Not long ago, Joey and his dad would get up to the sound of her humming and the delicious smell of bacon and eggs, or pancakes — now they were lucky to get toast and cereal. And the oddest thing is that his dad didn’t seem to notice!
That particular morning the toast was even burned to cinders! Joey ate his cereal and watched in astonishment as his dad ate that pitch-black toast as if it was a delicacy. He even thanked Joey’s mom…
“Dad?” said Joey. “Did you REALLY like that toast?”
Joey’s dad took another bite and nodded. “This, Joey, is the most delicious toast ever.” Joey was sure that his dad was just as crazy as his mom! He went to school thinking about it.
“What if they both go mad? I’ll have to live with Grandma Freda and she smells funny and wears dentures!”
Joey watched with growing apprehension his parents’ eccentric behavior. That night, his dad announced that he had an important meeting in the morning and his mom immediately offered to iron his favorite shirt.
His dad was tucking him in after reading him a story when his mom walked in with the shirt in her hands and tears in her eyes. “Oh Ralf,” she sobbed, “I burnt it…”
Joey saw that the front of the shirt now had a huge black mark the exact shape of the iron. To his surprise, his dad put his arm around his mom’s shoulders.
“Bess, it’s okay!” he said gently. “It’s only a shirt and not worth crying over. I have a dozen more shirts in my wardrobe, and I’ll wear one of those with my favorite tie.”
Joey was amazed. If anything like that had happened to his favorite Spiderman sweater, he would have been furious! He would have complained and said a few unkind but very true things. His mom really was getting to be too much! What was wrong with her? And why didn’t his dad seem to notice or care?
To test things out, Joey left his baseball equipment spread out in the lounge that night and waited to see what would happen.
He had just finished brushing his teeth when his dad called: “Joseph Yearly Davis! You get down here right now and tidy up your stuff.” So… Dad DID see what was happening, he was only giving mom a free pass.
It just wasn’t fair! Joey was quite upset about it. The next day he discovered that his mom had made him peanut butter and salami sandwiches! GROSS-OUT! Luckily for him, his friend Gus ate anything so he traded his lunch.
Gus said it was delicious, but Joey was not convinced. Something had to be done. That night, his mom served them roast chicken, but when his dad carved it, he discovered it was quite raw.
She started crying, but Joey’s dad jumped up. “Bess,” he said, “you clever girl, you’ve given me the perfect excuse to take us all out to a surprise dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant!”
And before he knew it, Joey was strapped into the back seat, with his mom and dad in the front. His dad was singing some opera song in Italian and he was terrible, and his mom was laughing.
They arrived at the restaurant and Mr. Guido found them a table with candles and everything and they had a lovely meal. On the way home, Joey was half asleep in the back seat, and he thought he heard his mother whisper: “Thank you…I love you…” to his dad.
He presumed they even kissed when he got home which was seriously gross. Anyway, the next morning Joey asked his dad if he could take him to school because he wanted to talk to him.
He agreed, and on the way to school Joey asked, “Dad, why don’t you get mad with mom?”
His dad glanced over at him. “Why would I get mad at mom, buddy?”
“Well, because everything she does is a MESS! The food, the things she breaks, your shirt, last night’s dinner…” Joey explained, “You just act like it’s all okay, but when I do something wrong you tell me!”
“Joey,” dad said quietly, “mom is going through a hard time right now. She has a big project at work that’s not going so well, and she’s worried about grandma Freda.”
Love is being supportive and understanding even through the hardest times.
“Grandma Freda? Because of her dietetics?” asked Joey. “Why should grandma’s diet worry mom? Tell grandma to come live with us she’ll lose weight quickly!”
Joey’s dad laughed. “No, Joey, DIABETES. That’s a serious illness, and yes grandma Freda has to have a special diet. She’s far away and mom worries because she can’t help her.
“And on top of it all she does a lot of things for us, have you noticed? So if sometimes things don’t go so well, I don’t get upset. I try to help out as much as I can. But mostly, I show her I understand and that I love her.”
“Oh!” Joey said. “That’s nice, dad. I guess I’d like that too if I was feeling sad and tired and confused…”
“Of course you would, Joey.” Dad said, “And that’s what mom does for me when I’m tired and confused too.”
“Oh.” Joey thought about that for a long time. “So is that love?”
“Yes,” Joey’s dad said softly. “That’s what love is.”
“Well, then, I won’t mind so much when it happens to me one day,” Joey said. “Except for the kissing and the mushy stuff!”
A few weeks later, life was back to normal, and Joey’s mom was smiling and as energetic as she’d ever been. Joey heaved a sigh of relief. Everything was going to be ok, he thought, and it was.
Many years later, Joey (everyone called him Joe now) found a girl and fell in love and discovered that he kinda liked the kissing and the mushy stuff so he married her.
When his wife was sad or tired and confused, Joe remembered his father’s example, and he made sure he was especially kind and loving. Joey knew that one day he too would be explaining to his son exactly what love really is — more than the kissing, it’s patience and kindness.