Wednesday, November 26, 2014

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: A father’s sacrifice for daughter embodies parental love

By AMY NEWMARK, Chicken Soup for the Soul | 1/24/2014

At Chicken Soup for the Soul, we receive no shortage of stories about parents’ sacrifices for their children. The stories are both commonplace and heroic. Abby McNutt wrote about the sacrifices her father made to send her to college in her story “One Father’s Sacrifice,” published in our book about thanking our dads.

Abby lived in a stable, nuclear family until, during her senior year of high school, her mother ran off with a man she’d met on the Internet. This left Abby’s father alone to nurture and provide for their children. As Abby wrote, her father was not an outwardly affectionate man. “He rarely said ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m proud of you.’” Rather, he showed his devotion through his actions. As Abby began the process of choosing a college, her father told her she could go wherever she wanted, even the expensive private university that was her first choice. So, Abby went to the school of her dreams and her father made sure it worked out financially.

At Chicken Soup for the Soul, we receive no shortage of stories about parents’ sacrifices for their children. The stories are both commonplace and heroic. Abby McNutt wrote about the sacrifices her father made to send her to college in her story “One Father’s Sacrifice,” published in our book about thanking our dads.

Abby lived in a stable, nuclear family until, during her senior year of high school, her mother ran off with a man she’d met on the Internet. This left Abby’s father alone to nurture and provide for their children. As Abby wrote, her father was not an outwardly affectionate man. “He rarely said ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m proud of you.’” Rather, he showed his devotion through his actions. As Abby began the process of choosing a college, her father told her she could go wherever she wanted, even the expensive private university that was her first choice. So, Abby went to the school of her dreams and her father made sure it worked out financially.

Working long hours in a tire factory, he put aside enough to cover tuition bills and to keep Abby afloat. He sent her the money she needed in envelopes labeled “Daddy Moneybags,” which made Abby laugh every time they came. He also made time to be the nurturer. He drove to Abby’s university to take her shopping for a new homecoming dress. He hid notes and chocolates in Abby’s laundry bags and showed his affection with hugs whenever Abby left for or returned from school, all while keeping his family together on his own.

The extent of her father’s sacrifices sometimes made Abby feel guilty in the years after her mother abandoned them. But one Sunday, in church, she discovered a new way to view her father. The pastor explained the meaning of a “shepherd warrior” who “loves sacrificially,” and Abby came to understand her father’s sacrifices in these terms. Whatever one’s spiritual background, this strikes me as a wonderful image for parenthood. In many ways, this is just what parenting is about: expressing love through sacrifice.

•••

There were a few weeks last year when I spent a lot of time grumbling about work. We had too many books to finish in not enough time, and I was stressed and felt overworked. I suspect we all feel like this from time to time, and maintaining some perspective about our troubles can help. This is what Dr. Sally Willard Burbank found during one particularly exasperating day, as she wrote in her story “The Onion Room,” published in our book about the power of staying positive.

Her day began with one patient who arrived late but demanded to be seen anyway and another who screamed at Sally’s secretary when asked for a co-pay. Then Sally was handed a stack of paperwork to be finished by the next day, she wasted 20 minutes on hold with an insurance company, faced a patient enraged about waiting for her appointment and dealt with a man who passed out while his blood was drawn. The last straw was a woman who had stopped taking her prescribed medicine after finding a “miraculous” herbal alternative on the Internet. “I’m just more comfortable going organic,” she explained.

Sally walked into her next appointment harried and wondering what would go wrong next. She found Marge Moreland, whose eyes were irritated and who suspected the problem was her workplace. Why? She spent eight hours a day chopping onions in an unventilated room. Outraged, Sally called the local Occupational Safety and Health Administration officer, only to learn, to her astonishment, that nothing could be done. Onions, after all, were food, not a toxic substance. Sally was horrified. Marge, on the other hand, was proud that she had been on the job for three months, longer than any predecessor had lasted. “I’m hoping to be promoted to cabbages,” she explained.

Suddenly, Sally didn’t think her day seemed so bad, and she was impressed by Marge’s positive attitude. I am too, so when unfinished manuscripts pile up I think of two things: I’m glad they’re not onions, and I know that with some persistence things will soon get better.

Syndicated by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, online at www.chickensoup.com

comments powered by Disqus