November 9th was the 22nd anniversary of my dad’s death. On that day, my closest childhood friend sent me a text including this picture of an apple. Her words, “I’m thinking of you and your dad today.” I was immediately brought to happy tears.
Here’s the connection. My father–my incredible father–carved a picture in my nightly, bedtime apple. Imagine a miniature pumpkin carving. It now seems unbelievable but he did this for many years. He would typically carve out the pieces and then put them back so we would have to remove the tiny pieces to discover the picture. I loved this ritual. And yet, as a child, I did not fully appreciate the time and care he put into this routine.
In addition to my childhood friend who experienced the apple carvings during our many sleepovers, my cousin recently shared a similar story with my mom. As a child, he was once staying with us and feeling sad and lonesome, apart from his parents. My dad carved a picture in an apple to lift his spirits. I didn’t remember this at all. I also didn’t realize that my cousin has since done this for his own children with my dad in mind.
My dad’s intention: to bring us joy. And yet, decades later this ritual still means so much. A legacy indeed.
I can’t help but think about this experience as compared to some of our students’ experiences. For some, the simple presence of a father, or an apple, is a blessing in and of itself. Sometimes, the complex, heart-breaking situations force learning to be secondary at best. We have students in our classrooms who crave attention from a caring adult–any attention. We can’t carve them bedtime apples but our words, our acceptance, and those hugs may mean more than we might ever know…