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. 🙂

a fathers words of wisdom

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.

words to live by

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….

….”Why?”

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.

fathers words of wisdom

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:

“KariAnne,

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.

Practice grace.

Practice charm.

Be a guardian to your brothers and sisters.  You may be one of their few sources of strength.

Love to you,

Dad”

top of the mountain

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. 🙂

Comments

  1. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    What a precious, precious gift! I know this is a treasure beyond measure for you. My mom was our rock. So lost without her. And I wish more times than I can count, I could just talk with her and ask her how she did it with such grace and love. Praying that letter always gives you joy and strength. And gives you a sense of your dad being always with you. hugs, Cecilia

  2. Image for Tera Tera

    I just walked into work to start my day and read this. Now I need to go to the restroom and check if my makeup is ok since I just shed some tears. Thank you for posting this. I miss my dad too and this really touched me.

  3. Image for Laura @ the Tiny House Farm Laura @ the Tiny House Farm

    Wow what a wonderful gift he gave you! I know the sting of losing a dad. Mine died when I was 18. I often wonder what life would have been like with him during my adult years. I was a lot like my dad so we clashed a lot when I was a teen. The night before he died, I hugged him and told him how sorry I was for everything and that I loved him. He loved me back. It is these little moments of grace...whether a word, a letter, or just being with someone...these moments can last a lifetime and change our world. I'm so happy for you that your dad was so wise to leave you his last bit of father-daughter time for you to cherish! Beautiful story.

  4. Image for Carrie Carrie

    What a blessing to be raised and cherished by a wonderful man. Can a man do anything bigger in his life than be important to a child? If so, I don't know it. God Bless you both!

  5. Image for Donnie Donnie

    Oh my dear, what a man. You were blessed indeed and may I say, you appear to have followed his advice even before you received the letter. The letter says a lot about what kind of man he was. What an example for his children. May his rich legacy live on in his grandchildren and beyond. Thank you for sharing. I talk about you with my husband as if you are a friend I talk with several times a week. I catch myself saying - someone told me.... And then I stop and explain, well KariAnne wrote this week.... What a treasure you are!

  6. Image for Jessica Jessica

    What an amazing dad you had! Beautiful story, now I have to go blow my nose and explain to my children why I'm crying over my phone again!😊

  7. Image for Janette Janette

    Oh my KeriAnne what wonderful man your father was.....how amazing to have his words to go back to over and over again, my mother did this and I am forever grateful, although tears roll down my cheeks each and everytime I read or even think of them, it's a great legacy.. I feel for you in the great loss of a parent, and no matter how much time passes, if you were lucky enough to have a great family, they walk with you always... I truly believe in the saying, 'it's not goodbye, it's just until we meet again..'....take care and remember, crying makes the eyes sparkle...haha...

  8. Image for Cassandra e Cassandra e

    Oh the tears! What a moving story. What a gift! My dad died after a prolonged illness and I scoured his house for such a letter that wasn't to be. But your dad had the foresight to write not even knowing where you would be in life. So beautiful! What an amazing man. What a gift. What an inspiration.

  9. Image for Laurin Laurin

    What a beautiful story of remembering your Dad! I miss mine as well. He was my Hero! Thank you for sharing this with us.

  10. Image for Toni Toni

    What a beautiful gift to have had a father like that. You were truly a blessed daughter! Sometimes I wonder why so many of us have fathers that are so lacking in their ability to love and be loved. I am so thankful for my Heavenly Father who loves me perfectly and taught me to give grace and forgiveness to my own earthly father and step father. But the world desperately needs father's like yours Karianne and the lives they influence (like yours). Thank you for sharing......and for starting my day with a few good tears!

  11. Image for Kris Kris

    Missing my daddy, too. Looking forward to seeing him again at the right time that God has planned. :) You are making me think that perhaps I need to write a similar letter to my own children ... You mini-thistle's comment made me tear up even more. So sweet.

  12. Image for Robin Robin

    What a precious gift to receive. I know you will often refer back to it and cry and smile and know that he is still with you each moment in your heart and your head. Thank you for sharing such a personal intimate glimpse of your AMAZING father. I love him as well, as if it were not for him, we would not have you. Enjoy his warmth and love daily.

  13. Image for Linda Linda

    KariAnne, My father passed away 18 years ago and I continue to miss him. You are so fortunate to have his voice in that letter he wrote to you. Makes me want to write letters to my 3 sons immediately. Cherish each memory and his voice in your head and heart! Thank you for sharing this today.

  14. Image for Debi Debi

    My Dad has been gone 12 years last week and I still miss him every day. What a treasure those words must be to you receiving them after he is gone.

  15. Image for Terri Terri

    What a wonderful and amazing legacy!!! A letter you will forever and always treasure! Thank you for sharing with us.......................

  16. Image for Leanne Leanne

    Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing, the gentle tears were a mixture of your beautiful shared letter from your father and me missing my father who left us six years ago. Even though he stopped talking the last six months prior to his passing - I still got the smiles and sometimes snarky comment that made me chuckle (he had Alzheimer's) I may not have a letter - but I do have a million pictures with his infectious smile and a lifetime of great memories (which my children still talk about) I have been thinking of jotting a note to each of my kids - this has made me want to get the pen and paper out now! ( a little side note my middle son just adopted another rescue dog two weeks ago - his comment was " mom he's meant to be mine as his name is Jack - just like Papa and my middle name" so we have a little four legged pup named Jack in the family 😍) Thank you again for sharing!

  17. Image for NormaJean NormaJean

    What a wonderful Dad you had! I know you realize just how blessed you are, to have been surrounded by so much love and wisdom your entire life. What a treasure to have his thoughts about you, to read and re-read again and again.

  18. Image for Patricia Krank Patricia Krank

    How wonderful that you have this letter from your dad. My dad has been gone for over 30 years and I still miss him. I've tried to live my life following the example he said for integrity and hard work. We are blessed with a beautiful inheritance from our dads. Hugs, Patti

  19. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    I miss my papà too. I was close to my mamma, especially since my papà left us 16 years before my mamma went to join him. He and I were very similar in personality. He and I could talk without saying a word. KariAnne, your dad was a giant among men. I wish I could have met him. Sending huge hugs!!

  20. Image for Dawn Dawn

    I think that for all of us, you are doing exactly as he wished for you. You will. never know the way your words mean to the ones who read them..

  21. Image for Janet Janet

    A fear of mine is losing my parents since I'm so incredibly close to them both. But the advice I'll give myself is to remember that they are always with you...in nature...in places you shared memories...during holidays...and they are always in your heart. Treasure that letter and know that you were his treasure...truly a gift!

  22. Image for Judy in Virginia Judy in Virginia

    Thank. You for sharing this message. My dad has been gone four years now. Like your's, he was my mentor and confidant and there is such a hole in my heart that no one else can fill. It's nice to know someone has also had such a great dad to hold similar feelings. Thank God for such dads.

  23. Image for Francis C. Moore Francis C. Moore

    I wonder what advice he would give you in this troubled world we are dealing with now. I am 74 years old, and I have very few comforting words for my 13 and 6 year old granddaughters. Maybe you could write a post in your dad's memory giving us some advice.

  24. Image for Debbie Debbie

    Thank you for sharing your special letter. I was blessed to have a wonderful Dad, too. I could relate to the emotions you feel!

  25. Image for maureen maureen

    Wow! That is amazing! What a gift of love he left you! Today I had a conversation with my 87 year old dad on the phone. At the end I told him I loved him. Not sure why I don't say it more often, but I don't. He said he loved me back. He is not one to say these words. I was deeply touched. Then to just read your post, it was overwhelming! You are so blessed!

  26. Image for Mary Woeppel Mary Woeppel

    Kariann how wonderful! I too know how difficult it is dealing with wanting one more moment. My eyes are crying right now , hard to type the words, it hurts. My mom was ill in intensive care for weeks. We prepared the room back home where she wanted to be. Got the hospital bed delivered, hung her favorite pictures where she could see them. All the time thinking she was coming home! We didn't hear or refused to listen to the doctors that she was dying. She was home two short hours. How I wish I could go back in time. Cherish your dads words of wisdom. I truely believe they are with us in spirit.

  27. Image for Sue Sue

    What a wonderful Dad you were blessed to have in your life. So many of my friends had fathers who were not in their lives, and I lost mine suddenly when I was 16. I've always wished he could have known and loved my husband and children. I try to tell stories about him but as you know,it's not the same.

  28. Image for Jolene Jolene

    What a gift your dad has given you! I, too, think of my dad every day, and take great comfort in remembering his voice, his whistle, his ability to talk like Donald Duck, and his great joy when each of us came home. Cherish those memories and know that he still watches over you.

  29. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Beautiful wisdom that proved a Dad who knew his daughter and took care of her heart. Thank you for sharing. What a treasure to hold. Such abundant love.

  30. Image for Mary Mary

    What a wise father! I hope that it reminds us all to write it down NOW!!! Such a treasure to have when there is nothing more to be said.

  31. Image for Mary Mary

    Ok now you did it you've got me crying and I haven't even finished my morning coffee. Thank you so much for this post. I am at a point where I have started to feel there are no more decent people left in the world. Your dad was one of the greats and he has passed all this wisdom onto you. KariAnne be the light for us. Be the Joy for us, and spread your love. And in turn we will do the same.

  32. Image for Lisa Lisa

    I wish I had known your father. I remember when they announced his passing in church, the words of Jeff Warren and the reaction of the congregation told me he was a great man. His words to you are priceless.😍😍😍😍

  33. Image for Amy Kinser Amy Kinser

    What a legacy. What a gift God gave you. I am thankful in my heart that you had such a dad as this. How blessed you are!

  34. Image for Lynn Mosher Lynn Mosher

    What a beautiful letter! What a beautiful legacy! {sniff-sniff} I am blessed as well to have such a wonderful Dad legacy. This was so precious, KariAnne! Your dad instilled in you such marvelous gifts. He's always with you. Bless you, dear one! ❤

  35. Image for Tina Carpenter Tina Carpenter

    I just cried my eyes out. I bet your Dad and my Dad are friends in heaven, they sound so much alike. How lucky we were

  36. Image for Vickie Vickie

    What a wonderful gift the letter was from your Dad and how blessed you are to have it! My Dad died in 1981, and I still miss him so very much. I was definitely a Daddy's girl. Blessings to you.

  37. Image for Sue Sue

    What a wonderful gift from your father. My mother died suddenly and my father died slowly and painfully. Neither way is the way we want; we want them here forever and ever. Hugs to you!

  38. Image for MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!)

    KariAnne, you were so blessed to have such a dear and precious Dad -- and we are so blessed to have wonderful you! Bless you dear friend! Don't ever stop being the special gal you are!

  39. Image for Monica Monica

    I don't know how old you were when your dad wrote this letter, but he could see that you had something special. He would be so proud of you today!!!! You touch so many lives and we're so grateful.

  40. Image for Sarah Sarah

    KariAnne, I'm wiping so many tears right now. What a gift this letter is for you. I lost my mom very suddenly two years ago- with no warning, no goodbyes- so I know that pain. Praying for your heart and so thankful for you to have such amazing words written by your daddy. Hugs, sweet friend.

  41. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    You did get to talk to your dad one last time; abet it be one-sided. You are one lucky gal. Take heed. (Sniff. Sniff.) Love ya.

  42. Image for Pamela Griner Pamela Griner

    Wow...what a powerful post. One that resonates with so many of us, especially those of us who experienced the quick/sudden death of our beloved daddys. What a precious gift ...his letter will always be a reminder of his love for you.

  43. Image for debbie debbie

    KariAnne, The tears are still flowing and no fair you didn't pass out kleenex. A beautiful (but sad) story. :) debbie

  44. Image for Michele @ Thistledown Domestic Creations Michele @ Thistledown Domestic Creations

    You too were blessed with an amazing Daddy! My own father has been gone for over 17 years and I still miss him every. single. day. Like you, I would give anything to have him hug me again and to tell me everything is okay. Great men like our Dad's are hard to come by. Love you, my friend!

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