I saw it in my laundry one day recently... pretty much the last thing I would ever have been expecting to see. After a moment I remembered how it must have gotten there. My husband had been working at my dad's one day and ended up using one of his hankies to cover something ... ok, really I don't remember the details at all. :)
But there it was .... the red hankie. That was all it took for my grieving heart to be swept back to my childhood. You see, my dad always carried a hankie. Always. But it wasn't just for him ... Dad was quick to pull out his hankie for others also.
As a young girl I often was on the receiving end of such affection from him. We didn't get much time together, as dad was an over-the-road truck driver. Home about 1 out of every 7-10 days average I'd say. But if he was there, and if I had a need, the hankie would come out. Dad was a big man ... but he'd reach in and pull out that hankie and lean down to offer it.
Once I had kids I saw the same love shown to them. It always amazed me. We were home for a visit one time (we lived far away) and one of my kids had a runny nose. Not even a moment of hesitation and dad reached into his pocket and grabbed his hankie.
I found myself pausing to think about that. Am I quick to share what I have with my kids? Ouch .. often, not so much. :)
This all made me stop and think back to another way dad would offer me what he had. On days dad was home he did what truckers did ... they don't lounge around watching TV for countless hours ... they work on their trucks .. so they can go back out on the road. It can honestly be a really difficult cycle for a trucking family. It can cause the family to feel very alone and abandoned. No doubt there is a price to pay. However as I look back I also remember dad showing me he loved me. When dad was in the midst of working on a summer day he really enjoyed having a cold beverage. Sometimes it was my job to go in and get him one out of the fridge. I remember sitting on the steps of my family's house with a cold can for dad. He'd come over and let me open up the can, but he wouldn't grab it from me for himself. No, he'd offer me the first drink. I don't know about you, but I don't hardly ever do that with my kids. No, when I pour my morning coffee or open up my fresh can of diet coke ... I'm not usually thinking ... gee, I wonder if my little child would love to slobber on the can first. :) I never did acquire a long-loving taste for dad's cold beer, but the affection shown me ... that I have treasured always. And I've learned from it. And it's helped make me who I am today.
Just a little over two months ago dad's wife had the heart-wrenching task of setting out dad's clothes to take to the funeral home. With deep affection I watched her fold a red hankie and place it in the pocket of his jeans.
In the new year ... let us not become so busy that we pass by the opportunities to stop and help someone in need. Sometimes all they need is someone to wipe a tear, or a nose ... just that small bit of affection can speak volumes.