My grandfather was a sturdy and tall man with broad shoulders. In fact he was 6’2’ with a long angular face and the brightest smile that made my whole world shine.
Looking back with fond memories as I tell a small part of my life to the world; in Arabic “Grandfather” is “Jiddo” or spelled “Gido” … “J” pronounced like the letter “G” and “Do” like the word “Dough.” His name was Yacoub Khalil Odeh Ma’ayeh (my father’s father).
At the age of six, my father was laid off from work in Chicago, Illinois (USA) after 6 months of employment. So my parents decided it would be best for my mother along with my brother and I to fly back to Jordan and stay with my grandparents in our hometown of Madaba while my father looked for another job in Chicago.
We lived in Madaba for 8 months away from my father and I took it very hard. I cried for months. However, Jiddo was always there for us and his gentle and sweet soul got us through the hard times, especially for me.
My grandparents had a lovely garden of grape leaves, olive trees, all kinds of berry trees (we call “toot” in Arabic which also means “Blueberry”), rabbits, and so much more. My grandparent’s home and garden was up on a hill that was fenced in and I can look down from the stone fences to our neighbors who were farmers of olive trees and grape leaves.
When spring came, Jiddo and I would sit outside in the morning garden talking about all kinds of things that interested me and also, we would stop talking to listen to the bird’s chatter. Then we would walk over to the “Toot Tree” and pick morning berries. Of course, I would eat them as I picked the toots one by one. Jiddo would also carry me over his shoulder to reach the top of the tree to pick riper berries to eat.
One spring morning, Jiddo asked what I missed from America and I would like to have at the moment; I quickly responded to Jiddo, “A swing.”
He smiled and said, “Is that all?”
I thought to myself and replied, “Yes.”
The very next morning, Jiddo with a piece of wide wood and rope built me a swing and firmly tied it to the toot tree. Jiddo took my hand and walked me over to the swing. I was overjoyed with his gift. As he walked away back towards the house I began to swing as high as I could over the stone fences to touch the clear blue sky and I can peek down at our neighbors below.
Suddenly, Jiddo came running out of the house headed for me and as I kept swinging, Jiddo out of breath, firmly said, “Do not swing over the fence you can fall down and get hurt.”
I confidently replied as I swung, “Don’t worry Jiddo, if I fall, God will catch me.”
Jiddo did not respond, but only gave me a bewildered smile and walked back to the house.
When I was done playing with the swing, Jiddo quietly went back outside and repositioned the swing to face towards the garden and not the stone fences.
Thank you for the fond memory, Jiddo and your lovely gift that meant the world to me. God Bless your gentle soul. I love you.