The house was profoundly quieter now. The funeral service was a sweet combination of faith-filled worship and fitting tribute. The dozens of family members, cousin-strangers, and delightfully helpful friends and neighbors have retreated back to dock with “normal.” All that remained this evening were my dad, my sister and me.
After thank-you notes, food rearrangement, guest dish collecting and sorting, and a pause for supper, my dad decided to start the process of going through stuff. Her stuff. While my sister began looking through and sorting out her desk, he emptied her purse. Inside was what I suppose is a typical example of a 71-year-old woman’s typical daily haul. A wallet with all the ID cards, insurance and AAA whatevers, and credit cards. A wad of keys. Pills – lots of pills. Fingernail and lip stuff. A comb.
And a receipt.
“Hey,” Daddy said, looking over the receipt. “You know what? I’ll bet she bought me a Valentine card.”
That’s sure what it looked like. A loose receipt in Mama’s purse revealed the purchase of a greeting card sometime early last week or the week before. But where was it hiding?
We started looking everywhere. The desk. Files. Closets. I asked about the car. Alas, no card.
“I sure wish I could find that card,” Daddy kept saying.
Finally, my sister found it in what should have been an obvious place, just above the workspace on her desk. And sure enough, he was right. She had bought him a card that was just waiting for her signature. And here is what it says:
I’m Grateful for the Wonderful Husband You Are
Thank you for the marriage that I’ve cherished from the start
We’ve built a life together that I love with all my heart.
Thanks for the encouragement that helps me do my best –
Just knowing you believe in me means more than you’d have guessed.
Thank you for your friendship – you’re a very special man –
You lighten all our problems and add joy to all we plan.
Thanks for all the happiness you’ve brought me as your wife,
And thank you so for all your love – the best part of my life!
My mother, with no clue that this would be her last valentine, had already purchased the card that would speak long after she was unable to. And in doing so, even in the simplest of ways, after 52 and a half years she found another way to invest in my dad’s life, and her legacy.
One of the most intriguing descriptions of anybody in the Bible says that Abel, though he is dead, still speaks (Hebrews 11:4).
Yesterday – on Valentine’s Day – my dad discovered that his wife does, too.
So can I.
So can you.