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A Good Heart to Lean on

2005-07-13 11:34

  When I was growing up, I was embarrassed to be seen with my father. He was severely crippled and very short, and when we would walk together, his hand on my arm for balance, people would stare. I would inwardly squirm at the unwanted attention. If he ever noticed or was bothered, he never let on.

  It was difficult to coordinate our steps - his halting, mine impatient - and because of that, we didn't say much as we went along. But as we started out, he always said, "You set the pace. I will try to adjust to you. "

  Our usual walk was to or from the subway, which was how he got to work. He went to work sick, and despite nasty weather. He almost never missed a day, and would make it to the office even if others could not. A matter of pride.

  When snow or ice was on the ground, it was impossible for him to walk, even with help. At such times my sisters or I would pull him through the streets of Brooklyn, NY, on a child's sleigh to the subway entrance. Once there, he would cling to the handrail until he reached the lower steps that the warmer tunnel air kept ice-free. In Manhattan the subway station was the basement of his office building, and he would not have to go outside again until we met him in Brooklyn' on his way home.

  When I think of it now, I marvel at how much courage it must have taken for a grown man to subject himself to such indignity and stress. And at how he did it - without bitterness or complaint .

  He never talked about himself as an object of pity, nor did he show any envy of the more fortunate or able. What he looked for in others was a "good heart", and if he found one, the owner was good enough for him.

  Now that I am older, I believe that is a proper standard by which to judge people, even though I still don' t know precisely what a "good heart" is. But I know the times I don't have one myself.

  Unable to engage in many activities, my father still tried to participate in some way. When a local sandlot baseball team found itself |without a manager, he kept it going. He was a knowledgeable baseball fan and often took me to Ebbets Field to see the Brooklyn Dodgers play. He liked to go to dances and parties, where he could have a good time just sitting and watching.

  On one memorable occasion a fight broke out at a beach party, with everyone punching and shoving. He wasn't content to sit and watch, but he couldn't stand unaided on the soft sand. In frustration he began to shout, "I' ll fight anyone who will tit down with me!"

  Nobody did. But the next day people kidded him by saying it was the first time any fighter was urged to take a dive even before the bout began.

  I now know he participated in some things vicariously through me, his only son. When I played ball (poorly), he "played" too. When I joined the Navy he "joined" too. And when I came home on leave, he saw to it that " I visited his office. Introducing me, he was really saying, "This is my son, but it is also me, and I could have done this, too, if things had been different." Those words were never said aloud.

  He has been gone many years now, but I think of him often. I wonder if he sensed my reluctance to be seen with him during our walks. If he did, I am sorry I never told him how sorry I was, how unworthy I was, how I regretted it. I think of him when I complain about trifles, when I am envious of another's good fortune, when I don't have a "good heart".

  At such times I put my hand on his arm to regain my balance, and say, "You set the pace, I will try to adjust to you."

  Vocabulary

  1. cripple v. 使残疾,损害

  2. inwardly adv. 在内心

  3. squirm v. 蠕动

  4. let on 泄密

  5. coordinate v. (使)配合

  6. adjust to 调整,使适合于

  7. nasty adj. 肮脏的,不愉快的

  8. sleigh n. 雪橇

  9. cling to 抓紧

  10. handrail n. (楼梯)扶手

  11. basement n. 地下室

  12. marvel v. 诧异

  13. subject…to 使…经历

  14. indignity n. 轻蔑,侮辱

  15. punch v. (用拳头)猛砸

  16. shove v. 推,乱推

  17. content adj. 满意的

  18. frustration n. 失望

  19. take a dive 认输

  20. bout n. 拳击比赛

  21. vicariously adv. 可替代地

  22. see to it that 保证

  23. envious adj. 妒忌的

  在我成长的过程中,我一直羞于让别人看见的和父亲在一起。

  我的父亲身材矮小,腿上有严重的残疾。当我们一起走路时,他总是挽着我以保持身体平衡,这时总招来一些异样的目光,令我无地自容。可是如果他注意到了这些,不管他内心多么痛苦,也从不表现出来。

  走路时,我们很难相互协调起来-他的步子慢慢腾腾,我的步子焦燥不安。所以一路上我们交谈得很少。但是每次出行前,他总是说,“你走你的,我想法儿跟上你”。

  我们常常往返于从家到他上班乘坐的地铁站的那段路上。他有病也要上班,哪怕天气恶劣。他几乎从未误过一天工,就是在别人不能去的情况下,他也要设法去上班。实在值得骄傲!

  每当冰封大地,雪花飘飘的时候,若是没有帮助,他简直举步维艰。每当此时,我或我的姐妹们就用儿童雪橇把他拉过纽约布鲁克林区的街道,一直送他到地铁的入口处。一到那儿,他便手抓扶手一直走到底下的台阶时才放开手,因为那里通道的空气暖和些,地面上没有结冰。到了曼哈顿,地铁站就在他办公楼的地下一层,在我们在布鲁克林接他回家之前他无须再走出楼来。

  如今每当我想起这些,我惊叹一个成年男子要经受信这种侮辱和压力得需要多么大的勇气啊!叹服他竟然能够做到这一点,不带任何痛苦,没有丝毫抱怨。

  他从不说自己可怜,也从不嫉妒别人的幸运和能力。他所期望的是人家“善良的心”,当他得到时,人家真的对他很好。

  如今我已经长大成人,我明白了“善良的心”是评价人的恰当的标准,尽管我仍不很清楚它的确切涵义,但是我却知道我有缺乏善心的时候。

  虽然父亲不能参加许多活动,但他仍然没法以某种方式参与进来。当一个地方棒球队发现缺少一个领队时,他便作了领队。因为他是个棒球迷,有丰富的棒球知识,他过去常带我地埃比茨棒球场观看布鲁克林的鬼精灵队的比赛。他喜欢参加舞会和晚会,乐意坐着看。

  记得有一次的海边晚会上,不人打架,动了拳头,推推搡搡。他不甘于坐在那里当观众,但又无法在松软的沙滩上自己站起来。于是,失望之下,他吼了起来:“谁想坐下和我打?”没有人响应。但是第二天,人们都取笑他说比赛还没开始,拳击手就被劝认输,这还是头一次看见。

  现在我知道一些事情他是通过我-他唯一的儿子来做的。当我打球时(尽管我打得很差),他也在“打球”。当我参加海军时,他也“参加”。当时我回家休息时,他一定要让我去他的办公室,在介绍我时,他真真切切地说,“这是我儿子,但也是我自己,假如事情不是这样的话,我也会去参军的。”

  父亲离开我们已经很多年了,但是我时常想起他。我不知道他是否意识到我曾经不愿意让人看到和他走在一起的心理。假如他知道这一切,我现在感到很遗憾,因为我从没告诉过他我是多么愧疚、多么不孝、多么悔恨。每当我为一些琐事而抱怨时,为别人的好运而妒忌时,为我自己缺乏“善心”时,我就会想起我的父亲。

  此时,我会挽着他的胳膊保持身体平衡,并且说,“你走你的,我想法儿跟上你。”

相关热词:心灵 鸡汤

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