Anna walked the few yards to her mailbox steadied by her sturdy knotty-wood cane. The crook of the cane felt silky under her right hand. Odd how a cane made for her father over twenty years ago could meet her needs so well today, thought Anna as she struggled to open the mailbox with her other hand. The rheumatoid arthritis attacking her body was getting worse…
As she pulled the mail from the box, Anna thought she caught a glimpse of her father’s handwriting on a blue envelope, but that wasn’t possible. Her father had been gone seventeen years. “Oh, Daddy, how I miss you,” said Anna. She missed so many things about him: his stories, his laughing eyes and his gentle ways. “If only I could talk with you again, Daddy!”
Anna walked slowly back to her house, her mail clutched awkwardly in her left hand. Thankfully she had left the front door ajar so she wouldn’t have to juggle cane and mail in one hand. She pushed the door open with her shoulder, laid the mail on the entry table and then closed the door. Anna carried the mail to the overstuffed chair by the fireplace, falling into it with a sigh. “Why do the simplest acts have to hurt so much? I’m worn out getting the mail!”
She thumbed through the stack of mail. Two mail order catalogs, three—no four—solicitations for donations… a bill… another bill… a church newsletter—and that mysterious blue envelope.
Anna fingered the ragged envelope. “Hmmm. No return address… but the postmark is local. It definitely looks like Daddy’s handwriting, but how can that be?” She adjusted her bifocals and squinted more closely at the postmark. “What? This can’t be right… February 10, 1993!” Her hands shaking, Anna tore into the envelope. Lined notebook paper peeked through the opening. She took a deep breath and pulled out the paper.
She unfolded it and looked at the neatly penned words marching in orderly rows. That WAS her father’s handwriting! The date at the top of the letter said February 8, 1993—only a month before Daddy died suddenly of a massive stroke. This letter had somehow been lost and now had found its way to Anna—seventeen years late! Tears ran down her face as she shook open the letter and began to read:
I wanted to tell you how very much I love you. I know I don’t say this to you often enough… so here it is again: ‘I love you!’
I also wanted you to know that I have always been very, very proud of you! You have always been so caring, so loving, so patient and so understanding to those around you… even to those who were sometimes hard to love. I know you sometimes struggled in this area, but please know that I noticed how very much you depended on the Lord to help you.
We both know who I am talking about here. Your dear Mother was not always the easiest person to get along with. You probably never guessed—since she never wanted you to know—but she was in terrible pain for most of her life. I believe she had rheumatoid arthritis, though a doctor never told her so. She never cared much for taking pills, so even if a doctor prescribed pain medication, she wouldn’t have taken it… When the pain got too bad, she’d just hide in her room. The rest of the time—well, you know how she was—she would take the pain out on you and me.
Anna, your Mother loved the Lord—and knew He loved her—but she could never quite wrap her mind around the fact that He didn’t heal her of the pain. You and I know that sometimes God says 'wait', and sometimes He heals by taking the suffering person home to Heaven where she never has to hurt again. I believe that’s what he did with Mother.
I want you to know that your rheumatoid arthritis isn’t a punishment from God. Sometimes I think your Mother felt hers was. God loves every person too much to want anyone to suffer. Sickness is one of many evils that came about as a result of Adam and Eve’s Fall. I know you understand this, though Mother never did. Don’t ever let the pain you have in this world keep you from loving the Lord, Anna. He loves you so much!"
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