by Marie Toole
When God created me, my first introduction into this world was through the family. Here is where I was lovingly accepted, nourished and pampered. Here is where the roots of my heritage were implanted by my parents.
Because they were brought up during the depression, food was the language of their love. It was a major concern of my mother and father that there always be plenty to feed the family, the friends and whoever stopped by.
Mom was the homemaker, baking, and cooking throughout the day. Dad was the breadwinner who worked long hours and struggled to give us the best of everything. It was a simple life and one that I learned to take seriously.
I had two sisters, one older and one younger, but I was the one who bonded with my father during my formative years. As a young man, he traveled from Damascus, Syria with his younger sister on an ocean liner to the United States to reunite with his mother. It definitely was not a luxury cruise, but he toughed it out to seek a better life.
Although he had never been formally educated, to me, my father was the wisest man in the world. He was the nurturer and the biggest influence in my life. He was loving, caring, generous and loomed large in my eyes. Because he couldn't read English or write, I would tell him stories about the books I was reading and he would tape them. I could talk to him about everything going on in my life, my concerns, my fears, and my questions about people. He always had the answers.
It wasn't until I left home and became a grown up that I realized his impact on my life. I guess he was the hallmark of my personality because I took after him in many ways. I credit him for encouraging me to climb higher, work harder and be the best in every undertaking. He is the legacy of my life and I wish to pass on the values he instilled in me to the next generation. He was the Christ in my life and the greatest gift from God. Hopefully, I will follow in his footsteps.