Have you ever gotten something in the mail that totally takes you by surprise and brings you to tears? Well, I got a gift like that yesterday and need to tell you about it. But, in order to explain the gift, I have to give you a little history.
Most blog readers know that my daddy died in January of 2006. I was pregnant with Jonah. I was so sad that he would never know his first grandson but so happy he was finally free of pain. While his death was heart wrenching, it was joyous also because of his faith in Jesus. Because of that, he was made whole and no longer had to suffer on this earth.
If you don't personally know me or know my family, then you probably don't know that I was a daddy's girl. I had my dad TOTALLY wrapped around my little finger. I could convince him to do things that no one else could. Our personalities were so much alike. The two of us together drove my mother crazy! We were jokesters. We were buddies. I was his only little girl. He was pretty smitten with me and the feeling was very mutual.
My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, had surgery to remove a lung, came through surgery fine but developed AARDS, spent 6 weeks in a coma in bed 16 at Baptist hospital then another 6 months in the hospital at Baptist and then rehab at Methodist Rehab. He had to learn to do everything all over again. Initially, he was like an infant. With lots of diligence, stamina and determination, he did learn to walk, talk and eat again on his own. Through fabulous OT's, PT's and Doctors, he regained some sort of life again although he was never the same Jerry that had surgery that March day in 2004.
When he was in the hospital for those 6+ months, I put over 20,000 miles on my car. I drove 4 hours round trip 3-5 days per week. I worked until mid-afternoon, drove the 2 hours to see him at the 6 pm visitation in ICU, stayed there so my mom could go home for a couple of hours to get things, saw him again at the 8 pm visitation then drove two hours back home to Vidalia for work the next morning. My boss was AMAZING to me during that time and gave me so much freedom to be with and help my dad. In the two years that he recovered, I spent lots of time with him. And, when I couldn't make the trip, I talked to him on the phone...A LOT! Each time I got in my car, I called him. It didn't matter if I was going 2 minutes or 25 minutes. We talked the entire time. We were close. I miss him. He would love my boys. He would love this blog. It would be the highlight of his day.
Well, fast forward several years later to just a few months ago. Someone made a very cruel statement that infuriated me. They had the nerve to tell Dan in an email that "I understand Nicki had little relationship or respect for her Father until his death bed." To say I was furious is an understatement. There is NOTHING further from the truth. I immediately called my mother and she was horrified. She could not believe anyone would have the nerve to make such an untrue statement about a relationship between my daddy and myself. Especially when they had no firsthand knowledge of that. Word began to spread through my family about this statement and they all called with the same response as my mother. Seriously, tears were shed over this and it caused me (and much of my family) incredible sadness. Not because I questioned it or even gave it a second thought, but because someone would be so hurtful to bring my dead father into a discussion that he could not defend. And trust me, he would have LOTS to say about the accusation of our lack of relationship!!!
Several weeks passed after this email to my husband and it was still on my mind. My initial response was to attack back but I know better than that. You can't fight fire with fire. You can't change the mind of someone who chooses to believe foolishly. So, instead, I internalized it. One day, I was talking to a dear, dear friend from Jackson. She spent lots of time around my dad and I. She spent time in our home with us. She went out to eat with us. She was in my wedding. She saw my daddy give me away to Dan. She visited him in the hospital. She knew our relationship well. She too, was beyond upset about the words spoken about me and my daddy because she knew otherwise and because she know how wounded I was. So, just yesterday, when I pulled into my driveway, I saw a big yellow package leaned against my front door. I opened it to find this painting.
Part of the note said "I painted this after our last conversation. You told me about the comment made about your not being close to you Dad and I was hurt for you. Anyway, I knew you both and there just couldn't be a better daughter. I could clearly see how much you loved each other. People can be so careless with their words. Now when you look at this, I want you to remember the TRUTH!"
Is that not the most precious thing ever? It makes me cry every time I look at it. What a sweet reminder from a friend I haven't seen in so long but knows me so well. I'm not sure yet where it will hang, but you can be sure it will be a place I will see every day!