My Aba*

A necessary sequel to my mother’s day soliloquy

Oryan Levi
4 min readJun 21, 2020

*Hebrew for “dad”. We’ve never called him anything else.

My aba isn’t very funny. Witty comments go right over his head. He has two jokes and they’re not very good either. If you’re really itching for a laugh, he might treat you to a verbatim recitation of the script to Top Gun, in which case you’re in for wild ride. Anyways, no, my aba isn’t very funny, but he’s so much more.

I’ve never met a more patient man that my aba. But I guess that anyone who gardens has to be patient. He’ll plant something in March tenderly care for it all through the spring until there’s something ready to harvest. He’ll spend hours trimming and twisting his bonsai trees, knowing full well it will take years for those branches to grow into their shape. He’ll order something from overseas and wait months for it to arrive without even a mention. This is a trait he clearly did not pass on to me as I’ll check the mailbox twice in one afternoon in anticipation of some faux pink fur robe I ordered from China. My aba will take things as, and when, they come. It’s remarkable.

Caffeine is no match for my aba. This man will drink 6 cups a day and 3 before bed and sleep like a king. And each cup of coffee, and time of day corresponds to a different sweet treat. Israelis are notorious for using a cup of milky instant coffee as an excuse to eat a slice of cake, but this guy takes it to a new level. If there are less than two types of home made cake at home someone’s in trouble. For those of you who asked why I bake so much, now you know that its basically genetic.

If my aba lived by any mantra it would be “do it right or don’t do it at all”. I would say “go big or go home”, but anyone in our family would likely choose to go home rather than do anything at all. When my aba picks up a new hobby, which happens every few years or so, he goes all in on it. He’ll buy the best all terrain bike you can get or literally fly to Turkey to get pick up a hand carved violin. Store brand will not cut it for this man. He taught me to pick things based on quality, brand, research. I do none of these things but it was an honest effort on his part.

Much like my mamma, my aba is a maker. But whereas my mamma is a colorful mess of fabric and feathers, my aba is a crafter, an engineer, a solver. You can come to him with any contraption that you want to build and he’ll whip out a hand saw and some pvc pipe to make it happen. He’s built our shelves, desks, outdoor seating. Last week he and my brother made dumbbells out of concrete and metal piping — why buy them right? For my birthday he and my mamma made me a table. With! His! hands!

My aba is a rockstar. I truly believe he hears music differently than we do. I will never not be secretly impressed by his ability to listen to a song and immediately play it on an instrument. But in reality it’s in the sibling code to tell him he’s being and to please put the guitar away before we all go crazy.

Back in college I took a food class that specifically talked about our relationship with food as a result of our parents. We read this one academic article that I’ll never forget, called “Daddy’s Pancakes”. A peer reviewed piece of literature, Daddy’s Pancakes explored how fathers, who traditionally don’t do most of the cooking in the household, usually have their one special dish that they make for their kids. In the US at the time, the most common dish was pancakes, since working men would typically only go into the kitchen on the weekends. Anyways my aba makes on kind of pasta, and there is no moment happier for me than when he sets down a plate of spaghetti in tomato sauce in front of me.

There are a lot of people in my life who don’t have dads. Or don’t speak to their dad. Or don’t look up to their dads. Today I feel really lucky to have this kind of aba, who always has a toolbox and bonsai sheers at the ready. Plus, he’s assured me many times that if I ever get taken, he’s fully prepared to jump into Liam Neeson mode and have me home by dinner.

And, though I love to tell myself that my aba isn’t like all those other dads that we kids make fun of… with their lawnmowers, New Balance sneakers, neighborhood feuds, bad humor… every single one of those things applies to him. The other day he told me his favorite thing to do in the world was mow the lawn. Dads will be dads.

My aba is also a rockstar — is yours?