I’m a bit speechless today, and that’s not a common problem for me. Last night I was given a gift that left me in tears, yet filled my heart with love. I’m used to the idea of thoughtful gifts. Our family does a good job of gifting from the heart. Gifts are chosen with care; they’re not just picked up off the $10 table. For the first few years of our marriage, I made all of our gifts – partly for economic reasons, but also because I liked the idea of creating something special for each person on our list. That tradition ended as our family grew and time became an issue, but we’ve still tried to create an environment where the giving of gifts is a thoughtful, caring, sometimes creative activity.
Last night I received very thoughtful gifts from my husband – all created by him from ideas in his heart. There’s not a piece of jewelry in the bunch, but I treasure the gifts more than diamonds. One child gave me a gift she’d made; others gave me special gifts from my wish list and my oldest child gave me the gift that has left me speechless.
I was blessed to have two wonderful parents who loved me whole-heartedly. They both set an example of love, giving and kindness that greatly influenced the person I am today. I loved them both immensely, but my dad was extra-special to me. Other than my husband, he probably was, and still is, my all-time favorite person in the world – and he died far too early. I was only 28 when he died; it was a crushing loss for me. Our oldest son, who rivaled me as the apple of my dad’s eye, had just turned five. Not only was my dad’s death a loss for our oldest son and me, but also, as each successive child joined our family, I grieved a little that they did not have the opportunity to know my dad. He died in December 26 years ago, so Christmas has since had a little pall hanging over it. Last night our oldest son, the only one of our kids who knew my dad, gave me the gift of honoring my dad and the special relationship they had. His gift was a framed photo and poem. The photo, one of our son at about three years of age standing next to my dad on my parent’s front porch, both of them wearing blue and white striped overalls, is one of my favorite childhood photos of my son. The poem, The View From My Grandfather’s Porch, was written by my son and was published in Portland State University’s literary magazine, Pathos. The pages from the magazine sit open in the frame, the poem on one page, the photo on the other, floating above a background photo of the beach and ocean my dad loved, in subdued, quiet, peaceful hues. This is a timeless gift that brings my dad home to me – it makes my heart warm, but it also fills my eyes with tears. The remembering is oh so good, but remembering also still hurts oh so much.