Saturday, January 20, 2007

Birthday Cards and Memories

Every year in August, I look for birthday cards for my granddaughter Sarah Grace and my mother, who happen to share a common birth date. Dad’s birthday follows a few days behind.

This past year, as I looked through the cards for fathers, one caught my eye because of the pair of hands on the front of the card. One was the hand of a child the other the hand of an adult. The words on the card described the distant memories of an adult child remembering holding the hand of a father. I knew that I had to buy this card since so many of my memories about dad involves holding hands. How glad I am that I found that card in particular... it is the last birthday card I will give him. He died September 1, 2006, just a few days after his 86th birthday.

My first memory of Forrest Kauffman as my dad is from the Delaware County Fair the year he and mom were married. I took him by the hand and introduced him to my first grade teacher as my new father, my own father having died from cancer a few years before. I remember countless Friday nights, going to town with him and holding his hand as we crossed the streets of Muncie, generally ending up at the Martha Washington Ice Cream Shop and having a hot fudge sundae.

How many times over the years did I watch as one grandchild or another took dad by the hand to lead him wherever they wanted to go. Dad struggled, like so many men of his generation, with telling people he loved them but he always seemed to respond to the reach of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I watched in May of this past year as he took the hand of my mother and held it close to his side as he sat next to her in the nursing home, not wanting to let go, because he knew we would be leaving him behind. That picture is not only in my photo collection but permanently etched into my memory as well. By taking her hand, by responding to each of us who reached out our hands to him, Dad told us he loved us in his own way.

My very last memory of Dad is holding his hand as he passed on to a far better place. I have no doubt that he will be meeting each of us someday and that he will take us by the hand as we cross over to join him.

We will all be reaching back!

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posted by Marsha at


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