Friday, June 13, 2008

Letters from Daddy

In my first weeks as a college freshman, nothing pleased me more than finding a letter in my mailbox. Several times a day, I would make the trek across campus to the student center, hoping to find a note from a friend or relative. Letters from home helped give me confidence to reach out to new people, even as they helped me feel closer to the ones I had left behind. Eager to keep up with news from my hometown, I opened letters postmarked from Morristown immediately. Unless the letter was from my father.

Recognizing my father’s script on the envelope, I would quickly tuck the letter into my backpack, afraid the tears welling in my eyes would betray my emotions. I was trying to be a mature and independent college girl, after all. But with just a glimpse of my father’s handwriting, I was reduced to a homesick Daddy’s girl.

Growing up, I idolized my dad. He is a minister, and in my mind there was no Bible question that he couldn’t answer. But even more impressive to me, he lived his faith. I knew he was a man devoted to prayer and Bible study because I saw that he communed with God daily. He served and counseled church members with patience and compassion, yet he never forsook his role as husband and father. He served God, church and family with quiet humility. In my young eyes, he was perfect.

Heading back to my dorm room to read a letter from my father, I smiled remembering how Daddy’s letters had helped take the edge off my homesickness during my first trips away from home. When my sister and I spent a week at summer camp together, Daddy wrote that he asked our younger brother if he missed us girls. “If the girls were here,” 3-year-old Nathan responded, “I would put them in the trash can.” Only a brother could make you miss him more with such a statement.

Daddy’s letters could always make me laugh. “I’m sorry I haven’t taken time to write yet,” he once wrote to me at camp. “We have been busy painting your room this week. It looks really nice. I think you’ll like the polka dots and stripes.” Daddy often included comic strips, sometimes jotting notes relating to camp food or new friends.

My father used his letters as teaching tools also. “Thought you might enjoy this good article,” he would casually suggest at the end of a letter. I still have many of the magazine clippings he sent me to encourage purity or strengthen my faith.

Most meaningful to me were Daddy’s heartfelt sentiments. After I served as a counselor during the week he was camp director, he took time to write me a letter. “Dear Melissa,” he began, “I was so proud of you at camp again this year. You got involved, spent time with the campers, and made me proud in every way. I do not often enough tell you that I love you and appreciate you, but I really do. I am so glad to have you as my daughter. I hope this school year will be a great one for you. Learn just as much as you can, because these years will soon be gone. I love you with all my heart. Daddy.” I treasure this letter, and all the others I received from him.

Daddy’s letters taught me the power of putting pen to paper. This is a lesson I try to put into practice today. As my children make their first tentative steps into the world, I hope that a note slipped into their lunch boxes will help them get through a day of kindergarten. As they grow, I hope my letters written along the way will encourage and teach them, but most of all remind them they are loved.

This year for Father’s Day, I’m sending Daddy a letter. I want him to know that after all these years, in my eyes he is still perfect. I hope that when he recognizes his daughter’s familiar script on the envelope, he will know this letter is one to tuck into his heart to keep forever.

Happy Father's Day!

"Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding ..." (Proverbs 4:1).


Susie from Bienvenue said...

So sweet, Susie H

CountryMouse said...

A really beautiful posting.

Debbie said...

Hi Melissa, You are very blessed to have an earthly father like that because I don't. As I sit here in tears sad because I could never write, think or say one of those things about my Dad. He has never written me a letter to tell me he was proud of me even through all of my accomplishments. He is not a believer but thinks he is because of his religion that we were raised in and both my husband and I left. But, I know I have a Heavenly Father that makes up for that. And a husband who is Godly and righteous and who will provide the kind of memories as a Father that you had. You are blessed.

Melanie said...

Now I know where you get it from!
Your father sounds like such a wonderful man. I hope you get to enjoy a lovely day with him on Sunday.

P.S. Happy Father's Day, Joe!!

Joanne Kennedy said...

Once again your love shines through on your posts.

I too was a daddy's girl. He died when I was only 12 but I still miss him every day. He was a man I loved and looked up to and to me was perfect in every way.

Never miss a chance to tell your daddy how much you adore him and love him. You never know when God will call him home and you won't have him around to tell him that anymore.

God bless you and yours,

Leah said...

Such a beautiful post!

Robin Taylor Holley said...

Wow Melissa, I know where you get your talents! I'm a daddy's girl too. I LOVE reading your blog and when I need to smile I just click on your page! You are a blessing. YES, I rem. the first VBS we meet you. Times goes by sooo fast!

katylinvw said...

it's wonderful to hear about your father and your precious memories of him.

thank you so much for your prayers and your sweet comment :)

Joy Jones said...

Hi Melissa! I followed your link here from Cindy's at My Romantic Home. So glad I did - I love your blog!! What a BEAUTIFUL and heartfelt post. Such an inspiration! Have a blessed week! ~ hugs ~ Joy

Three plus Me said...

What wonderful treasures you have have from growing up! Thanks for sharing and inspiring me to write to my children!

LaurieR said...

How wonderful. I can never get enough stories of wonderful relationshipos between daddy's and their daughters!

Kristen said...

That brought back so many wonderful memories of my own getting letters from my dad in college - always with a little cartoon or check for some extra "fun" money. My dad is so sweet, but a quiet man - so getting his words in writing meant the world to me.

What a beautiful post - thank you!

Live.Love.Eat said...

I really love reading your blog. You inspire me to reach beyond even what I think is creative or thoughtful. I have a lot of notecards at home and while I send them out here and there it's not often enough. That will change!!!

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