When I was a young girl my dad bought my sister and me a storybook, “Walt Disney’s Story Land” (Golden Books, 1962). Inside was a collection of fairy tales and stories most of which had been adapted by Disney for animated features. He bought it for us one summer when we were visiting him at his home in Pennsylvania.
The book was an ordinary book, but our dad read stories to us from it each night at bedtime. That summer, we forgot the book when we packed up to head to our home. When Daddy discovered we had left our book, he made plans to mail it to Texas for us. But before he did, he recorded himself reading a few of the stories on cassette tape. We were excited to have this treat and we listened to the stories at bedtime. Before and after each story he read, he would give a brief “life lesson,” and he always ended the session with, “I love you, girls. Be good to one another”.
I am not sure how we managed to hang onto them – they have gone back and forth between my sister and me for years. We have had multiple moves in the past 40 years, but to have them now, especially after our dad has been gone for more than 10 years, is a precious, precious thing to me. As I listened to my dad’s voice on the tapes tonight, I cried. I cried for the little girl I was who didn’t understand why her parents were not going to live together anymore. I cried for the little girl who missed her dad but felt like she couldn’t tell anyone how much she missed him. I cried for the little girl who thought she had been bad and was the reason her mom was sad. And, I cried for the grown woman I am now – the wife, mom, nana – who just misses her dad.
Sometimes in life grown-ups make decisions and choices in a situation that affect you, but you do not have any say in the decisions being made. And it stinks. But later, as you grow, mature, and learn more about people and relationships, you understand that some decisions others make are not about you. I did not understand my parents’ divorce when I was seven, and I did not know how to communicate my lack of understanding. I did not understand it when I was a teenager, but I allowed my behavior to be reflective of lack of understanding (and not in a good or productive way). After I was married with a family of my own, I realized I am not supposed to understand my parents’ divorce – it was a decision between them and about them.
Somehow, taking myself out of the equation all together made me feel better. It wasn’t about me! I didn’t have anything to do with it. Yes, I was still hurt by the change in my life – but it was not my responsibility. Being able to let go of a something that is not mine to carry is such a relief.
In addition to the stories in the book, Daddy read Psalm 23 to us. I wish I had asked him what had occurred in his “world” on that particular day that led him to share the psalm that evening. While Dad always made a point to share “life lessons” with my sister and me (on the tapes and during every visit), I don’t remember him sharing his faith with us very often. But, on this night he did as he read and explained Psalm 23. I think that because of the geographic distance that separated us and the infrequent visits we had with one another, he felt an urgent push to share messages he deemed important with us at each opportunity.
As I thought this through, I realize that this is exactly what I am doing with you. I feel an urgent push to tell you all these things – life lessons, bits of encouragement, and memories. The truth is that none of us know how long we will live on this side of heaven and I know that when God calls me home, heaven is where I will be. I want you to know that you have a heritage of faith from those who have loved you even before they knew you.
I love you, Sweet Girl. Be good to others.
Copyright ©2017 Kelly Morris