smelly fish

by Julian Merrow-Smith

when was the last time you took time to think about how much your mom loves you?

if you eat fish often enough, you’ll know that fish don’t always smell good- especially their stomachs. my family usually gets our fish from my hometown, where my granddad gives us small fish that he divides into packets for individual meals. in my family, my mom is the expert on eating fish, which means to say that she is a pro at getting all those small bones out of the way. however, it also means that when we get a foul-smelling fish belly, usually she tackles it so we don’t have to. unless, of course, all the fish smell bad. then we split the job.

tonight, mom was having a little bit of a rough time and cried over dinner. we ate in silence and i tried to be understanding. there was fish, and halfway through the meal, mom gave me half of her fish, already deboned.

oh, i thought to myself, she’s trying to help me eat faster so we can get to that last fish that’s still in the pot. sometimes, mom gives me some of her fish when my deboning is going a little slow. she’s having a hard day- i’ll be nice by giving her the other half of my fish then, i thought.

and so i did. but she insisted on returning it to me, disregarding my attempts to persuade her to take the fish. finally, she said, “i don’t want you to get the one at the back (in the kitchen).”

it dawned on me. the one in the pot wasn’t going to smell good. and it was then i was reminded of how much my mother loves me. even though she was having a hard day, she was thinking of me, and did what she could so i wouldn’t have to struggle to eat a fish that didn’t smell the best.

it’s not every day that i get to know that mom is having a hard time. a mother’s struggles are often silent, and her battles often go unnoticed amidst all the things that are happening for those under her care. yet moms are the ones who see needs and meet them. she sees problems and works to solve them. she sees people who aren’t the most lovable, yet chooses to help them- to love and care for them faithfully. and all too often, we take this angel for-granted. all too often, i take her for granted.

if you’re reading this now, i encourage you to just take a moment to think about your mother. think about her love for you, and then show it. give her a hug, write her a note, make her a drink, send her a letter, give her a call, take her out for a meal- do what it takes to show that you love her too, and that you appreciate her labor of love.

i’m going to do the same.

i’ll have to admit, smelly fish aren’t the best, but for a lesson learnt on love, i think it’s worth many more fishes.

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