— written in a Valentine’s card from my father, 1991–
You’ve heard that we use different parts of our brain to write and speak, haven’t you? It really should come as no surprise. I am a terrible conversationalist, but when I sit down at the computer or even with pen and pad, 10,000 saintly thoughts come marching in.
My father had a muse, and he believed I had one, too. Some would say it was just the firing of different neurons while others would call it the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Maybe, it’s both.
All I know is that in my father’s cards and letters dwelt his perfect love for me. The things he wrote to me he rarely spoke. Still, his tender missives came every birthday, every Easter, every Christmas, and every Valentine’s Day. My father is still alive, suffering from a monster in his brain, and so, in too many ways, these cards and letters are all I have left. I don’t read them very often, because they tear me up. I want to run to him, hold his hand, and remind him how perfect he was.
But, you know, he was not perfect. But, in too many ways, he was all I had. For me, his love was far greater than the sum of parts. As a unit, the family of origin operated in the red. As a child, those who spoke ill of him or hurt him in any way invited my ire. To this day, I do not like grand poobahs. This is the path most kids follow. I was loyal to my father and I cringe and fold when I am forced to remember his many imperfections.
“What would I do, had there never been you?
To challenge my thinking, to search out the true?
The good and the beautiful,
The person of you, the daughter so dear
So much like me, yet significantly you!”
“ And I think the powers that be should declare by Congressional proclamation a Jennie Day upon which everybody in the entire world should send to you a Jenentine.”
“All of us have had so many things happen in the last year it is difficult to try and ferret out the meaning of it all…My love for you as my daughter is forever, decisive and unending…”
“Someday, though in years to come, which are within His own omniscience (up to now–) we all know better than what we know now (I Cor. 13:8-13)…”
“You were one of my favorite gifts of all!”
And finally, this:
My dad and I cropped from a family photo, Walnut Church of the Nazarene, California, 1972