When I was little we had family meals every evening. From my young child perspective, the kitchen felt warm, the wall paper was yellow with flowers, the wooden kitchen table was large, and there was a lot of food. I have the sense of generous dishes of rice, chicken, kebab, potatoes, Israeli salad, vegetables, pita, homemade hummus. (I do know how fortunate I am to have had this.)
I am the oldest of five and back then there was me and three of my sisters. My brother didn’t join our family until several years later. The food was always good – thanks, mom. I remember my mom saying that she learned to cook from my dad and his mother so we grew up on Middle Eastern food – yum.
After dinner, instead of helping my mom clean up (why did you let us get away with that, mom??) we sat around the dinner table and my father made up stories for us. I don’t remember the content of them now, but my favorites were his Star Wars stories. After dinner he took the Luke, Leia, and Han on adventures that had nothing to do with the movies and we absolutely loved every minute of it. There was intense suspense and he did all the voices. The good guys always won. We sat glued, on his lap and on the seats next to him, listening to every word and I imagined his story playing out in my head.
Some nights he didn’t really have any stories to tell or was probably really tired after a hard day’s work, but we begged and begged him until he gave in. He laughed and laughed and asked my mom, “You see this? Why they love it so much?” He had this way of laughing and talking at the same time in a high pitched voice that made others around him laugh too.
He always ended his stories with “And may the Force be with you!” We screamed and clapped with joy.
Dad, we loved it so much because we loved Star Wars and loved you. You paying attention to us in that way and doing something just for us. Something you created just for us. It felt special. It was a time when you weren’t angry and I wasn’t afraid of you. It was you at your best and most loving.