Wednesday, July 24, 2013

papa's thank you notes

Doesn't it just make your day when you see a handwritten card or a thank you note in the mailbox? I know how much it means to me. A treasure amongst the bills and junk mail. Each heartfelt expression like these that I've received, whether from my immediate family or friends, is tucked away in a special box I keep next to the fireplace. It's my own little love-note treasure chest. I guess I'm sentimental this way.

My Dad knows how good it feels, too. It's been an amazing discovery for me to see this in him, as it has been with all those other good qualities I've acknowleged. He understands how good it feels to know that someone is thinking about you. How good it feels to be remembered. To feel special. To be noticed. To be thanked even for the small stuff.  What might seem insignificant or not that big of a deal to most people.

For the last year or two, my Dad has spent a lot of his time and energies writing thank you notes. He was thrilled when I gave him and my mom a set of my photo cards for Christmas last year. And me so taken aback when he said he wished I had given him his own full set and when was it that I could print up more. He writes his thank you notes between reading stacks of historical non-fiction and doing family history (genealogy) research. It's becoming a big deal. It's kind of like his thing. Becoming a weekly, if not daily part of his routine. I can just see him, sitting on his Lazy-Boy in his bedroom; bifocals perched on his nose, his special fountain pen in hand. Thoughtfully thinking about who needs to be thanked. Who needs a pick-me-up. Mom says that the old ladies at church (or the teenagers who "might need a lift".) keep coming up to her to tell her how "absolutely wonderful" it was to get one of my dad's cards. A real thrill. Talk about being "tickled pink"...

Every now and then, one of his cards comes in our own mailbox. Sometimes, I'll put them on the fridge just so I can get-- or be reminded of-- that warm and fuzzy feeling. That he loves us. Like the two that came this week for Isaac and Eliza. He wanted to thank them for coming with him down to the cabin. Wanted to tell them how much he loved that and loved them. Or the one for Sam last winter-- how much he enjoyed going to his basketball games throughout the season. These expressions are priceless treasures, I tell my kids. Something to hold onto and tuck into their scrapbooks like I've done with handwritten letters from my own grandmothers. Just to have something written in their own hand.

When I was over there visiting the other day, I told him, with tears in my eyes, how much all of this has meant. How much it means. To me and to the kids  and to all these people. My sister, my mom, and I giggled about his new supply of "Tickled Pink" cards. The set with pink envelopes even. Who would have ever thought, we say.

"Is this the same Dad I knew growing up?" I ask myself. 

I think he's always had a soft heart (tears come easily, way too easily to him.), but now that he's getting older, he's not afraid to let the demonstrative, affectionate, tender side show. It just may be that I'm seeing a new side of him that was there all along.


  1. So sweet, Emily, thank you for sharing. He was crying before he said hello when I showed up at their house last fall. Reminds me of my father, who also always had a soft heart but it was very much to the surface in his later years.

  2. That is just so sweet! You and he have inspired me to do the same. Love it!

  3. I was your father's mission secretary for nine months, the last nine of my 24-month mission, from February to October of 1985. I idolized him. I did everything I could to be a support to him in the mission's administration so that he could minister. I thought his handwriting was beautiful, and I enjoyed being reminded of it in the photos above. I remember practicing his signature over and over again when he was gone once and a letter needed to be signed (nothing terribly urgent or official). I showed him the copy of the letter when he returned to the office. "A little big," he said, "but not bad." He told me many times of his handwritten journals, and showed me shelves of them after the mission, all in black binders, one for each year. I do the same, but all of my entries are typed. After my mission, I assembled a scrapbook of everything I saved from the mission: train tickets, trolley tickets, subway and bus and boat and airplane tickets, candy wrappers, post cards, food packaging wrappers, museum entry tickets, hole-punched telex machine ribbon (before fax machines), form letters (all typed by me on electronic typewriters before computers), wedding announcements from other missionaries that had gone home, missionary cards, etc. I have two pages of yellow Post-It notes from your father, President Reuben Perry Ficklin. Post-It notes were new in those days, and President seemed to enjoy using them. Some of the notes were to give me assignments, but almost all of them were affixed to some work I had done, and said "Thank you." I kept dozens of identical "thank you" notes in my scrapbook because his acknowledgment of my service to him was important to me. Of course, I didn't keep them all. I will have to send you a picture of the scrapbook page, or better yet, show you the scrapbook page in person.