My stomach gnawed. It was time. Time to pull the teal Honda over at the interstate rest area and find a picnic table.
Alone, and returning to Tennessee from a Florida visit to my parents’ house, I grabbed the brown bag in the front seat.
I spread several paper towels provided in the bag on the cement table, noting its previous bird visitors.
“Thanks, dad,” I breathed, “for remembering paper towels.”
I opened the bag mumbling a silent prayer of thanks for nourishment and for this, the most practical of gifts.
Peanut butter and butter sandwich. Yes, peanut butter and butter. No jelly. Homemade whole wheat bread. I took a big bite.
Dad. Just like being a kid again. He remembered my favorite.
There were nuts, Fritos, a fresh peach, V-8 juice, and a note. Extra napkins.
Dad. He’d gotten up extra early and made the lunch for me, his thirty-something daughter.
Dad. He’d remember all my favorites.
The dad who went out of his way to drive to the trailer park, the retirement home, and the lonely houses to pick up elderly women who had no way to get to church. He was always on the lookout for the downtrodden, the discouraged, the dragging.
The dad who had an automatic following of church children. Piggy back rides, gentle teasing, twinkling eyes sparkling with interest in them. My dad paid attention to the shyest, loneliest, neediest child.
The dad who remembered my lunch favorites was the dad whom I’d accompanied in church. He the violinist, I the pianist. He taught impatient me “Adoration.”
The dad who modeled God in small ways. Quiet ways. The dad who noticed everything. Listened.
Today Dad served lunch at a table spread before me. He anointed my head with oil of spiritual legacy, and made my V-8 juice cup overrun with blessings.
My humble dad, presenting a disguised sermon of love through a lunch made with his own hands that morning while he let Mom sleep.
I read the note elegantly scripted with the black Sheaffer fountain pen he’d owned for thirty years: “Your mother and I are so happy you came this weekend. We are proud of you. Have a safe trip. Love, your dad.”
My pastor dad who illustrated his sermons in the pulpit with practical illustrations, surprise twists, and powerful references to God had written his sermon of caring for me, his firstborn, with a sandwich.
And my dad had remembered the chocolate mints.
I tossed the remains of the lunch into the nearby garbage can. I kept the note, pulled onto the interstate, and sped ahead in the shadow and legacy of the most influential man I know.
I still taste those mints.
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