Have you ever wondered why your parents did some of the things that they did. I did lots of times. My dad had so many regimented activities that I thought he had a screw lose or something. I’m only going to talk about two here because there are too many to put into one essay. I really spent time observing my dad as a kid and listening to him, and it wasn’t until I was about forty that I realized some of the benefits of his behavior and very recently some of the real benefits of his behavior. My dad had an unbelievable fear of getting a cold. He came home from WWII with malaria and tuberculosis. He was always cautious of sharing food, towels, cups, and silverware. Any watermark on silverware in a restaurant was sent back immediately. I remember one time in a restaurant in New York a fork went back three times. Some people send food back he sent the silverware back. It got so bad that one guy sitting close to use told my dad that the he thought that the waitress was on Candid Camera. If you sneezed you were accused of trying to bring a cold into the house, to try and kill him. He was hospitalized on December 27, 1967 due to a reoccurrence of the TB and was sent to the infirmary at the veteran’s hospital in East Orange NJ for 3 months. When he came out that’s when anything and everything could give him a cold. Two things were absolutes, cold feet and white flour. I never saw my father walk around without shoes or slippers on. He wouldn’t walk three feet without putting on a pair of slippers. If you sneezed he would always ask you what you ate. My sister, my mother, and I thought he was crazy. Bare feet and white flour would make you sick and if you got sick, well as he put it, “If I get a cold I am finished.”
All of these things I observed always stuck with me. When I was about 40 years old I started to battle my weight. Always watching my calories and trying to stay in shape. The Atkins diet started to become very popular along with other diets that restricted carbohydrates, and other foods that contained you guessed it, white flour. Exactly what the old boy was talking about 30 years ago. Suddenly everyone had a carbohydrate allergy, was gaining weight, had type-two diabetes, high blood pressure, and all kinds of health issues because of white flour. I started to watch my white flour intake and I started to lose weight. The stuff I loved as a kid was something that could now kill me. The stuff that my father said could make me sick was making me sick.
Recently I was walking around the backyard with a pair of flip-flops on. I have a tendency to drag my feet when I walk primarily because my feet are kind of flat, something that I also inherited from my dad. I walked from the shed to the concrete walkway and slammed my right foot into an Adirondack chair. I know I broke the middle toe, at least it looked broken. The next day passing through the garage I stubbed the same toe on a hand weight in the middle of the floor. I got into the car in agony looked down at my foot which had the same $3.00 flip-flop on it and I could hear my father say to me, “Will you please put your slippers on.” This isn’t the first time I stubbed that toe but it is the first time it dawned on me that my father knew me because I was just like him. He didn’t want me to go through the same agonies that he had gone through. He didn’t want me to get fat or stub my toes he just had a strange way of letting me know. I don’t think he ever gave me the reason why he did what he did, that’s probably why it took me thirty years to figure it out on my own. If I could ask for something I would ask that my two daughters learn the reasons why I do what I do quicker than I learned things from my father. There’s a question that kids ask all the time “Why do we have to do this?” Sometimes by the time that gets figured out it’s too late. So put your slippers on and have a piece of whole wheat toast, you’ll be glad you did.