Thursday, September 19, 2013
Dad's Unsent Letter
My dad was not a letter writer. He delegated the task to my mom who loved writing anything, everything, and anytime to anyone in her circle, especially her children—and in her later years, her grandchildren. If she were alive in this electronic age, she'd be writing a hundred emails a day.
I lived in the US for a few years, and in all those times, dad wrote me only once. I rhapsodized about that letter in an essay published in two newspapers there.
Today would have been his 101st birthday had he lived long enough to celebrate it. But cancer snatched him, at age 70, away from us years ago.
I remember him now because on my birthday last July, my sister Aie gifted me with a letter written by dad on my birthday when I was still single and in Chicago—a letter I never received. Aie said she found it buried among our mom's old file in our old home just recently. (He called me May.)
I believe it was his response to my letter about my decision to get married—to a stranger they had yet to meet—asking for his and mom's blessings.
What I remember vividly is that my mom wrote me a lengthy letter saying how delighted she and dad were about my decision to have a family of my own (“It's about time,” she assured me) and that I had their blessings.
It puzzles me no end why dad decided not to send this letter.
Did he forget to mail it? Was he averse to expressing his feelings? Did he find his letter mushy? Was he against my decision after all? Why even write on a lovely stationery my mother never used? Questions, questions.
Over the years, I have experienced unexpected grace in unexpected circumstances in unexpected forms, which I will treasure to my grave. But this letter tops the heap.
Now I know that my father, who was loathe to show his affection, was once affectionate, never mind if it was only on a letter that was never sent.
For this, let me change my old header and in its place, a new one—in thanksgiving to the One who surprises me with grace beyond retelling.
Daddy, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3 (NIV)