Oh the Things You Will Hear if You are Willing to Listen

Oh this day last year I was merrily on my way to my most beloved place in the world, Harrisville, MI.  My sister’s family and I had rented a cottage for the entire week on Lake Huron.  They drove up the night before but, due to my work schedule, I had to wait and drive up on Sunday, which was Father’s Day.  It was a four hour drive spent in the sunshine, with my windows down, and the music blaring.  I look forward to drives like this because it gives me a chance to really think about things, really explore my feelings, and ask myself questions that I avoid asking during the buzz and hum of every day life.  

Since it was Father’s Day, my mind and heart naturally drifted to thoughts of fathers.  I thought about, and gave thanks for, the many men in my life who have stood up to be a positive male role model to me, from teachers to family friends to uncles to my step father, and even my D.A.R.E. officer.  I have been blessed to know what a good man is and why I am deserving of the love of a good man.  However, all of the love that has been showered upon is still a close second to the love of my father whom I lost too soon. My father died when he was forty and I was only four which left an aching tenderness in my heart that has never fully healed.  

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As I drove on I went through the normal list of questions: would he be proud of me? would I be proud of him? would he think I’m funny and pretty and smart? would he believe in my dreams and my ability to achieve them?  what would he say to me today? I wiped away tears on and off for the next hour. As I was passing through a little lake shore town I saw a sign in front of an old church that advertised a used book sale.  

Two things you should know about me: 

1.  I will ALWAYS stop for a used book sale, always!

2.  I love happening upon a book that has an inscription in it written to some stranger whom I will never meet.  The trick though is that I can not look for inscriptions; the inscriptions have to find me when I pick up a book that interests me.  Then, if I find a book that I’m interested in AND there is an inscription in it, I HAVE to buy it.  

So, I pulled my car over, rolled down the windows for the lizard in my back seat, and walked in to begin my treasure hunt.  When I got inside I saw that it was a large empty room except for 5 long tables on either side completely filled with books.  The spines of the books were all facing the sealing so that you could not see the cover of any book except the one on the very end.  This isn’t my favorite way of searching for books, as I am heavily swayed by cover art, but I’ve grown accustomed to this type of search and the extra time that it calls for.  I walked directly to the first table, put my hands on the spines, and began my search.  I looked at the books where my left hand had landed and immediately drew my hand back.  I looked around the room as if to question the strangers to see if they saw what I was seeing.  Even if they had though, they would have no idea what it meant.  

The very first book beneath my hand was The Fall of Freddie the Leaf.  If my recollection serves me, I believe that a family friend brought this book over to our house shortly after our father had passed, though I can not recall who that friend may have been.  What I do recall is that this book was read to us in an attempt to explain what we were going through.  Freddie is a leaf on a tree who experiences the four seasons alongside his friend Daniel (which just so happens to be my father’s name).  As Spring turns to Summer and Summer turns to Fall, Daniel guides Freddie through the changes and explains that it is all a part of Life and our larger purpose.  In the Winter, Daniel releases his grip on the tree and falls gently to the ground, leaving Freddie alone.  Freddie is fearful for a period until he accepts that this is all a part of the process, and that he too must let go one day.  When his time comes, Freddie is able to view the entire tree for the first time and he understands in full what his purpose was.  

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I’ll be honest, as a child I don’t think the book had the impact on me that the adults had hoped for; metaphors we lost on me.  Regardless though, I thought the book was an odd find to come across on Father’s Day, in the middle of no where, after I had spent the entire drive thinking about my father.  I pulled the book from its resting place and opened the front cover.  Much to my delight, the front cover was inscribed.  Not only was the front cover inscribed though, it was dated 1986, the exact year that my father died.  

The inscription read as follows:

To Elaine – My friend,

This is one of my very favorite books – and I know it will become one of yours.  It is a gentle reminder to me – of the meaning and “beauty” of death – and a reminder also of our “Purpose” or “Reason for Being”.  Your parents had many “Reasons for Being”. Giving the world a daughter as beautiful as you are is only one “Purpose”. 

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I immediately put the book in my bag as I knew that it had been placed there just for me.  I rounded up a handful of other books, gave my donation, and got back on the road.  My eyes again filled with tears, but this time they were tears of understanding as the message had been received.  

When I got to my final destination, I walked into the lake (which is the one place that I have always felt his presence), looked towards the heavens and wished my father a happy Father’s Day and thanked him for his gift.  

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jamie
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 11:07:20

    And I’m crying. This is beautiful, friend.

    Reply

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