Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gifts

“A sunfish, in one spangled moment
Beating with Light the throttling air”
Loren Eiseley

“…man has gotten lost in a desert of terrible freedoms.”
Loren Eiseley.


My cat brought me a gift once. He left a dead sparrow at my doorstep. I understood his act. I even understood why he’d eaten the heart and other tidbits out first. Don’t we humans almost always save the choicest bits for ourselves? How many of us truly offer gifts to others without keeping the heart for our own?

But sometimes I remember my mother, who claimed all through my childhood to love the neck and back of the chicken most. “Those were her favorite pieces,” she said. That’s why she always ate those instead of a breast or a thigh or a drumstick. For years I believed her.

Until I had a child myself.
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48 comments:

Wil said...

God Dammit Charles! I am now sobbing softly, and shit.

Wil Harrison.com

Charles Gramlich said...

Wil, you're a softy at heart I see.

the walking man said...

There is no better example of selflessness than a parent truly engaged with their children.

Well told Charles.

Wil is sobbing softly for the recent pummeling of the Blackhawks By the Red Wings.

David Cranmer said...

There's no such thing as genuine altruism I've been told... and have come to believe.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

I think you've invented a new genre - flash non-fiction.

Very nice.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,

I'm with Wil -- a real tearjerker! I can only imagine how many sacrifices parents make. As I get older, I can see more and more what they were. I wish I had appreciated it more while they were alive. Love the cat image.

spyscribbler said...

Isn't that the truth? Well-told.

Although, I don't have children. I'd pretty much do anything for my niece. When she was born, I was struck, suddenly, by how happy it would make me to die for her, how it would be the best and most wonderful joy in the whole world.

Still. My chocolate is my chocolate. I'm not real sharing when it comes to my food. Glenn must share his food with me; I don't share my food with him. It's in our contract.

Charles Gramlich said...

Mark, ah, that makes me feel better about Wil.

David Cranmer, it depends on definitions but certainly most of the time altruistic people do get something out of it, even if it's an internal satisfaction.

Don, Eisely did it first. I'm being steadily inspired by his little nuggets from his notebooks.

Michelle, I know, I didn't understand half the things my mother did for me when I was a kid. I just took them for granted.

Heff said...

I feel a bit verklempt, myself.

ivan said...

First, the lover. And then the parent.

Mary Witzl said...

Awww, Charles!

Now I feel so guilty about polishing off the last of the potato chips...

jennifer said...

I think a mother would not only die for her children, but she will live for them too. Excellent post Charles. I feel blessed to have read it.

Scott said...

Charles,

Nicely put, my friend.

Travis Erwin said...

This piece should be held up and sued as an example of the who don't tell principal of writing.

Awesome job of showing what it's like to be a parent.

Travis Erwin said...

That was used not sued by the way.

Leigh Russell said...

Having a child - like falling in love, in an instant, totally and unconditionally, for the rest of your life.

Your post was really moving, Charles.

Charles Gramlich said...

spyscribble, we all have our chocolates. For me, it's books. I find it hard to share my books. go figure.

Heff, maybe Donna can comfort you.

ivan, They each have much to recommend them.

Mary Witzl, lol.

jennifer, I started thinking about my mom and it's just what came out.

Scott, thankee,

Travis Erwin, I'm glad it was used instead of sued. But it was a funnier comment the other way. ;)

Leigh Russell, thanks. I got to have lunch and spend some time with my boy today, so that was nice.

laughingwolf said...

oh boy, can i relate to that, i have three kids... and remember my own mother making similar claims yours did....

Steve Malley said...

Eloquent. Beautiful.

jodi said...

Charles, having a child finally made me unselfish. No sacrifice is ever too large. My parents did it, I do it and someday my son will do it too.

Steve Malley said...

That last comment was me trying to 'omit needless words'. Eloquent and beautiful were all that was left! :D

Lana Gramlich said...

Woo hoo! More chicken breast for the childless! ;)

Cloudia said...

A very rich and touching post!!
Mastery of words & emotional music!
Aloha

Wil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Gramlich said...

laughingwolf, My mom went through five kids. The poor dear!

Steve Malley, thanks, I appreciate it. Glad you liked it.

jodi, Yes, I never knew committment until I had a son.

Lana Gramlich, lol. You're incorrigable, my dear.

Cloudia, thanks. I appreciate that.

Wil said...

OK, that was me, I came in under my other name, which I only use on the Miley Cyrus fans chatroom. Anyway, what I said was:

God I wish Michelle was with me! Jeez, I would give like $417 just to...

Wil Harrison.com

Wil said...

AAHHHHHH! Same time comments!

Wil Harrison.com

SzélsőFa said...

While most parents do sacrifices like leaving the 'best' part of a chicken for their kids, some parents do prefer necks to breasts. My husband's one example of this. I believe he's sincere when he says the breasts are just too dry for him...

As for movies: I have just recently seen The Day The Earth Stood Still, too - I liked the cemetery scene the best...
And of course, all those technically challenging scenes, but with CGI, nothing's a problem anymore...

benjibopper said...

so true, and only now do i wonder if mum really likes the heal of the bread-loaf.

Mr. Walker said...

Hi Charles,

Lovely piece and aint it the truth! I've got another on the way and my hopes of getting lots of additional time have flown out of the window. That selflessness you described does hold a parents back in career or in other pursuits, but perhaps it deepens appreciation of life, for what it's worth.

Sad that I've been missing your posts - will work harder on keeping in touch. By the way - thanks for contacting Japanese Man In Shirogane. Told him to leave a message to you and read up on your posts. Am sure he will.

http://japonese-in-shirokane.blogspot.com/

Cheers,
DT

BernardL said...

“…man has gotten lost in a desert of terrible freedoms.”

Ain't that the truth... inspiring post, Charles. I was lucky, my kids didn't like the legs and thighs. :)

Alex Moore said...

you've nailed parenting squarely.

what breaks my heart, and i don't say that lightly, are all the "parents" i meet (as a teacher) who gobble up all portions and leave the parenting to the child.

the "desert of terrible freedoms" must have something to do with indulging self to the exclusion of care for others...

I agree w/ David Cranmer, there's no such thing as true altruism (apart from true parenting, but even then the parent has a motive, however pure), but even G.Washington said something like 'man only acts in his best interest' (though he was referring to treaties, i believe).

I love the best that humankind can be.

Chris Eldin said...

Gave me goosebumps right away. Bless her.

L.A. Mitchell said...

A simple, yet powerful, example of the selfishness we must surrender as parents.

Randy Johnson said...

I came to realize early how much our mother sacrificed raising three kids by herself(no monetary or emotional help from a long absent father). It changed her in ways we're still learning. She's well off financially now from her marriage to our stepfather, but seems unable to enjoy spending money on anything. She saves her money like she will be out next week.
We've tried to encourage her to enjoy it a little, but she doesn't.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wil, I'm sure there must be a reason for the specific number of 417 but I'm afraid my code busting skills are not very good this morning.

SzélsőFa, oh, the back meat is very juicy. It's just that there's only like two bites of it. And of course, some parents don't sacrifice for their kids at all, although I'm not sure they are doing the parenting thing quite right. Yes, I did enjoy the metal eating bugs from The Day the Earth stood still.

benjibopper, I actually do like the heel of the loaf. But part of it may be that we 'learn' to like that which we eat, even if it started out as a sacrifice of some sort for the kids.

Mr. Walker, I know I made some decisions when my son was young about how to move forward or to remain steady in my career, and I found later that those decisions were good ones. I think back now about how I was able to always make his ball games and spend time with him and that's far more important to me.

BernardL, I'm really enjoying a lot of the nuggets in the Eiseley book. That was a good one. Lol about the legs and thighs.

Alex Moore, I've seen parents like that too and it just leaves me appalled. I agree with you about altruism. The parent is definitely getting something, but it's not an easily measurable physical entity. I think of the "terrible freedoms" as being the choices that we can make because of technology that can destroy us in the long run.

Chris Eldin, she's a good momma.

L.A. Mitchell, I think it's important for our growth as people that we do that too.

Randy Johnson, my mom is still living frugally as well, even though she's in a much better financial situation too. those lessons learned hard and young stay with you, I suppose.

MarmiteToasty said...

Bugger, I have warm tears....

x

Sam said...

sweet!

Ello said...

That was simply beautiful. I loved that so much.

Best Fantasy and Science Fiction said...

Very well said...it is amazing the things most will sacrifice for their children. I never knew the true extent until I had children as well. Now we are adopting as well and it is good to see that our children, even at their young ages, already know it is the right thing to do and fully "support it" in the ways they can.

ivan said...

Oh how it is when two professionals try to raise children. Working at home..."One more hour. Just one more hour!"

And thirty years later, we wish we had given them the time.

Charles Gramlich said...

MarmiteToasty, thanks, but I'd rather have some of that delicious food you posted about on your last blog post. ;)

Sam, thankee.

Ello, thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Best Fantasy and Science Fiction, my son is adopted, but that never made any difference to me whatsoever. I'm glad to hear you are adopting though. I hope it works out as wonderfully for you as mine did.

ivan, It's really hard to have children and then really try to build a career both. Each is so demanding and time consumming.

Barbara Martin said...

Well told in the perspective of a parent.

Aine said...

I used to feel altruistic, until I realized that I was kind because it made me feel good. It was one of those lost innocence moments.

But you have captured the heart of parenting. It's a wonderful way that we ensure the survival of our genes. I'd much rather feel the love (despite the energy and sacrifice), than produce a thousand eggs and move on.
:)

Charles Gramlich said...

Barbara Martin, thanks. Our perspective changes as we age and that's a good thing.

Aine, yes, the love keeps giving, warms you when the tears come. Disseminated sperm and eggs does nothing of the kind.

Vesper said...

How true, Charles, and how well said...

(My parents are still doing that, and I am, too. It would be unimaginable otherwise. Yet I know parents who are not like that at all.)

Charles Gramlich said...

Vesper, I know. I just find that 'lack' of parental behavior to be so cold.

Danette Haworth said...

Oh, Charles! What a warm, wonderful detail. You must save that for one of your stories.