We were cleaning out Mom’s house in Pasadena in the weeks after her death. Dad had died nine years earlier, so I pretty much figured I had gone through the grieving process, understanding who he had been and accepting the loss.
Then I discovered a Bible on a bookshelf. Not one that Mom ever used, not particularly dog-eared either. Just a book on a shelf, one of many. Everybody had claimed their favorites, and my three siblings and I were packing up the rest to give to the library for their annual fundraiser. None of us really needed another Bible.
Before putting it in the giveaway box, I dusted it off, flipping idly through the unmarked pages. It was a newish edition, published in the 1990s, a fine leather cover. Not signed. No EX LIBRIS bookplate. Not anyone’s beloved copy.
Then out slipped a scrap of yellow lined paper with writing on it. I recognized the handwriting immediately. Dad’s. Everything in uppercase letters, the sort of thing I knew so well from the clippings he would often send with a Post-it note: “Thought you’d enjoy this” or “Reminded me of you” or “Got a chuckle out of this” and almost always ending with his frequent refrain to all four of us kids: “I’m proud of you! Love ya.”
Dad was proud of us. Nice to remember that right now. I wondered if this note were some other upbeat message. But, no, the words were addressed to the divine. “Father God,” it began. “As you know, I rejoice in wife, children, grandchildren, close friends, colleagues, companions and the warm love of Jesus….”
I smiled. Sounded like one of Dad’s rambling graces at dinnertime, a rehash of news he’d picked up on the radio on his commute home, maybe a petition or two for us, an exam coming up or a piano recital or drill team tryouts, always concluding with mention of Mom’s meatloaf or mac and cheese (getting cold while we waited): “Bless this food to our use and the hands that prepared it.” There was so much info in his graces that one family friend dubbed them the Six O’Clock News.
But this prayer went on at a much deeper, more personal level. And it broke my heart.
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