A Bowlful of Peanuts

By Ronald W. Rook

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    When I was a teenager, I struggled, as many young people do, with feelings of confusion and anxiety about the future. And like many teens, I didn’t want to approach my parents about my concerns. I felt they were too old. How could they possibly understand my problems? I’m sure my parents were concerned, but I avoided their attempts to talk to me.

    One night my father came home from work with a sack of groceries. He had stopped at the corner store and picked up a few items, one of which was a large bag of roasted peanuts. Finding our red porcelain bowl, he emptied the bag into the bowl. Then, in a voice barely concealing his apprehension, he asked me if I’d like to “snap a few” with him. He said he had a lot on his mind and that he needed someone to talk to. I reluctantly agreed.

    By the time the peanuts were half gone, we had warmed to each other, and for the first time in several years we really began to communicate. In his quiet, confident, roundabout way, he began to reestablish the truths he had taught me from the time I was a little boy.

    He talked with me not only as a father, but also as a friend—a much older and wiser friend. To my astonishment, I found a wealth of information and experiences in my father I hadn’t known existed. We didn’t talk much about the political and moral issues of the day; instead, I learned from the mistakes and successes of a man 35 years my senior.

    That was the first of many “peanut sessions.” When I left home to go on my mission not many years later, I embraced my father and felt his strength and love in the bear hug he gave me. I will always be grateful to him for reaching out to me during a difficult time in my life and sharing unchanging truths with me—truths that have guided my life ever since. His sincere friendship and nonthreatening approach gave me an anchor during a time of instability and provided an example of the way I want to rear my own children.

    Illustrated by Jerry Harston

    Photograph by Jed Clark