Fathers….they are strong and stoic yet somehow wonderfully soft; protective and strict, yet they find the courage to let us go on our first date or hold our hand super tight hiding tears as they walk us down the aisle. They make unimaginably selfless sacrifices we are not able to appreciate or understand until we are parents ourselves… Some may never utter the words “I love you”, but somehow we know how deeply they actually do. They show love in many unconventional ways and probably don’t get enough credit.
My father, a chef by profession, is one of those strong Russian men that never shows any sign of weakness or vulnerability; verbal affection was never his forte (his hugs are the best, though) and I have never heard him say “I love you” to any of us kids. Yet somehow he won the hearts, minds and undying affection and respect of all of his children – 5 daughters and 4 sons. Food is, in so many ways, a universal “language of love” and my father personified it. To him, love was always a verb…something he worked so hard to instill in all of us.
We were a big, loud family and our gatherings around the kitchen table over a meal were some of the happiest moments I remember from my childhood. Naturally, my father did most of the cooking. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up in the morning with him standing in front of my bed with a full plate of food for a lovely breakfast in bed or smelling wonderful aroma coming out of the kitchen and him telling all nine of us to get up and come to breakfast. If one of us was sick, our favorite meal was promptly on the way. Our birthday parties were legendary, with menus carefully planned and executed with so much love and affection that we couldn’t have felt any more special…. and holidays…no one makes turkey more tender or lamb more delicious.
Preparing wholesome, healthy and delicious food for his family and friends was and still is my father’s preferred way to communicate love. His favorite thing to hear is “Dad, I am hungry“. Clean plates, seconds and rave reviews are really the only compliment or sign of appreciation he ever wants.
With his art and passion for food and cooking, he broke all the language barriers and touched the hearts of his family and the people around him in a way so much deeper and more special than words ever could.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! You make everyone around you feel loved beyond measure without ever uttering the words.