Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Gift of Love - Janet, 64

It seems like Christmas memories are almost magical.  The smell of pine and a cooking turkey blend quite well to create an aroma that sends a message to the heart—there really is no place like home for the holidays.

Family traditions and our loved ones gathered together binds us tightly with cords of gold.  Treasured, precious memories bring joy as each year is remembered for its unique celebration.

I have many, many memories that I could write about, but this Christmas in 2012, I am remembering you, Dad.  My hope is that heaven has eyes and ears that will grant you a brief peak from the curtain of our separation.  I would like just a little time for us to remember with each other the only lasting thing here on earth—love.  Love is what we leave behind and love is the only think we can take with us when we return to our Creator.

I remember standing in line at the Post Office that year to buy some stamps when I spotted a wall of gifts for sale.  Since the line was long, I asked the person behind me to save my spot.  I was drawn to one particular item that was so cute it needed a closer look.  I picked it up and when I discovered the surprise it held, I knew it was to be my gift to you.

I have to admit I was a little nervous on how you would receive the gift.  Dad, I know your generation experienced some terrible times.  There was the Depression, WWII, and you have shared with me how you had to quit school to go work in the coal mines.

It was a tough time, and you had to be tougher still to get through the difficult days.  I think somewhere as you developed your spirit of endurance, you decided there were things that showed weakness in a man.  One of them was to express love; therefore you repressed the words and embraces that would say, "I love you."  You were expressing your love by being a devoted, hard-working, and faithful husband and father.  I am so thankful for that.  But, honestly, I missed the words and hugs that disappeared as I left childhood.

Now here you were sitting in my living room at the age of 90 to celebrate Christmas.  Everyone in the family was exchanging and opening gifts.  It was a wonderful chaos of flying paper and ribbons as the smaller children ripped through the wrappings.  However, by now you had macular degeneration and only viewed the night through cloudy eyes.

I placed the gift into your hands, so sad that you could not see the exchange of presents between all of us.  Feeling a little awkwardness, I said, "Dad, every time you think of me I want you to squeeze this and know how I feel."

I watched you unwrap the gift, thinking you would be embarrassed.  Although your eyes saw only a blur of something, you seemed to enjoy feeling the softness of it.  Then when you squeezed the furry stuffed animal, out came a tender, childlike voice saying, "I love you. I love you."

Dad, you did not see my tears when you said, "I love you, too, Janet.  Always have, always will."  That expression of love I longed to hear was my Christmas gift from you.  A tiny stuffed animal opened the way for us to say what has always been on our hearts...that we loved each other.

I miss you, Dad.  I treasure this memory of love between us that will remain in my heart for all the Christmas days ahead.  Merry Christmas with Jesus, Dad.  I love you.  Always have, always will.

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