Dear Papa and forever Opa Karl!
Do you remember the time you forced me to sit on the dinner table until I had shuffled down the last bite of food? No, you had no mercy. Food was sacred to you; not a morsel to waste. “Eat what’s on your plate,” end of story.
Spinach😐. I was a lousy eater. But spinach, spinach was my number one enemy.
You grew our food with a passion. We lived from what you planted like most people at the time.
And things changed, I grew out of my aversions and started to love and worship fresh and local food. And spinach! I still prepare it like mom always did. With a hint of garlic and nutmeg and a touch of cream swirled in at the end.
My favorite story and my most profound sense of gratitude to you have to do, of course with spinach.
The same spinach I hated so much as a girl.
It was in the Spring of 1992. Sarina was 18 months old and we moved back to Germany to be closer to you for a while.
Sarina was still ill from her traumatic birth and on oxygen at night. She developed one of the many cases of pneumonia she had as a child. Gravely sick we spend a few days in the hospital. It’s part of the life of a micro-preemie child.
When we came home, she couldn’t hold any food down. Her coughs were heartbreaking.
You and mom took turns visiting me every day to help me stay strong. Something freshly cooked, warm, and tasty arrived with each of your visits.
I forget to eat, lose weight when in worry. Mom’s food unearthed my appetite each time. The worried look on your face softened a bit when you saw me eat.
Sarina was heavy and hard to carry. She didn’t walk or crawl at the time. My arms or stroller were the only way of transportation. Your arms and mom’s lap were so much more than relief for my tired shoulders. They showed love. Unconditional love.
The morning Sarina did not throw up her tea I called you to celebrate. “Papa, Sarina is healing, she kept her tea and an inch of banana down!” I heard your voice crack. Speaking about emotions was not your thing: “I’ll stop by later.”
At 11:30 am the doorbell rang. It was you. All sweaty from biking with a helmet on your head you handed something wrapped in a red and white kitchen towel to me:
“Frischer Spinat vom Garten. Mama hat ihn grade gekocht. Für Sarina.”
Fresh spinach from the garden, from Mama. For Sarina.
Sarina had fallen in love with my mom’s spinach.
Papa, you biked 40 minutes to deliver your love to us. Tucked into the basket of your bike. In the form of fresh spinach for your grandchild.
That spinach holds everything and anything I could ever want from a dad and the Opa or Grandfather you were. Your grandchildren and we always came first. Fierce love in action. I love you.
I miss you so fiercely now. Thank you for showing me what love means.
Happy Father’s Day Papa,
💗 because of you, they now eat spinach in heaven!