Maybe it was all the overwhelmingness of this week.
Maybe it was that I felt like I needed a friend who understood.
Maybe it was because I needed advice and a shoulder to cry on and a little perspective on a weary world.
Whatever the reason.
I missed my dad.
I would have given every curl on my head and every purple painted toenail for one more conversation with him. I wanted him to smile at me with that smile that made me feel like my worries were silly and tell me everything was going to be alright. I wanted to hear his laugh and see his twinkle and listen to the wise words from someone who always had extra.
But I couldn’t.
So I did the very next best thing.
I read his words.
Here’s a story that always and forever will have my heart.
I grew up in a household full of love and joy and creative individuals….a band of merry men….
…..led by the merriest of them all.
My father was the heartbeat of our home.
He knew every single element on the periodic table and every detail of the revolutionary war and could sing every verse of the Battle Hymn of the Republic in a perfect tune he strummed out on his guitar. He was witty and funny and kind and generous and when he talked to you….
…he had the amazing ability to make you feel like you were the only person in the room.
And that you could climb mountains.
Probably backwards…..carrying your brother in a wheelbarrow. 🙂
He taught us by the way he lived. He walked with his head held high and he shook your hand and looked you in the eyes and you knew you were special. He showed us that every single person has value and worth and much grace should be given….
….because you never know the battle that someone else is fighting.
I thought he was a giant.
I thought he was a king.
I thought he was a warrior and that he would live forever.
And then six years ago—in the blink of an eye, suddenly and without any warning…..
….the leader of our band of merry men was gone.
I was so angry.
How could we go on without him? He was our world.
I shook my fist and sobbed and asked over and over and over again….
I didn’t even get to say goodbye.
I would give the world to get to talk to him one more time. Just to see his smile. Just to hear his voice.
Just to tell him I loved him.
And then, this summer at the Cape, my mother handed me an envelope. She had been slowly going through his things and she found a letter he had written to each of his children years and years earlier. He had so many things to tell us, she said. And he wrote them down to pass on the wisdom of what he had learned.
Life lessons he wanted to make sure we remembered.
He wrote the letter and sealed it and left instructions for it to be opened after he was gone.
You see….he knew.
He knew we would be lost without him. He knew that life’s journey would be challenging and full of twists and turns—without direction. He knew we would need reassurance and hope and words of wisdom for the lonely road ahead.
And when she handed me the letter…..tears filled my eyes…..
….and then I opened it and read:
You are rich; you are delightful; you are creative. Through your natural personal energy, you can make the world better for having lived.
But with great talent comes great responsibility.
You must discipline your talking ability to increase your personal effectiveness. By discipline, I mean you must learn and sharpen your listening skills and your timing. You have a natural integrity that can be used or ignored. Always follow the straight road. Short term gains made at the expense of your integrity will ruin you in the end.
Be a guardian to your brothers and sisters. You may be one of their few sources of strength.
Love to you,
Those words of wisdom are still swirling around in my head and I want to clutch the pages to my heart and tell him thank you.
Thank you for being an example of a life well-lived.
Thank you for being tough and understanding and oh so patient with a daughter who opened her mouth and inserted her foot more times than you could count.
Thank you for your legacy.
And thank you for taking the road less traveled.
I love you Dad…..
…..and I always will. 🙂