As told to Janet Kahler
I quietly excused
myself from the faculty meeting, taking refuge in the ladies
room. Unbidden tears coursed down my cheeks, releasing emotions I had
held firmly in check for far too long. For the first time since Dads
death, I finally admitted to myself that he was truly gone.
A couple weeks before,
our principal had arranged a faculty meeting that was different from
the usual. He had asked us to bring samples of our students
writing. In small groups we were supposed to discuss how we
encouraged writing in our classes.
Annie, the mathematics
teacher, told how she had asked her students to address three or four
specific areas. I graded the assignment simply on how well they
expressed themselves relative to the guidelines.
You didnt grade for spelling, punctuation, sentence structure,
and grammar? June, the English teacher, was appalled.
No, I leave that to English teachers, Annie replied.
I sat there wondering
how I would explain the way I had marked the papers I had brought,
all carefully corrected for every error that I could
I had grown up in a
home where proper grammar was a must, for Mom was an executive
secretary, and Dad was an English teacher. Consequently, my unvoiced
response to Annie was, Horrors! Not grade for grammar? Grade
simply on expression of thought? What about the literacy were
supposed to be encouraging?
The topic dropped from
my mind until our next faculty meeting, when the principal set the
stage by showing a video on collaboration and team playing. Then,
playing some pensive music, he stated, Id like you to
reflect about what we learned at our last meeting.
Memories flooded my
mind. It was my freshman year in college in another state. Id
write letters home telling what was happening, what I was learning,
and how I missed my family. Imagine my consternation on opening a
letter from home and finding that, instead of a newsy letter about
family happenings, it was my letter, carefully corrected by Dad.
English wasnt my easiest subject, and that letter looked as if
it had been splattered with blood. All the missed commas, forgotten
periods, words that were misspelled or not properly capitalized were
clearly marked in red! My heart sank! How I dreaded receiving those
bled over letters! After about the third or fourth
returned, corrected letter, I wrote, Do you want me to share
whats going on, or do you want me to write a theme paper once a
I imagine Dad was
hurt. He wrote back, Im sorry, Marge, for offending you.
That wasnt my intent. I thought youd want to know the
kinds of mistakes you make in your everyday writing. I wont
correct and return any more of your letters. He kept that
promise, and I continued writing at least weekly.
Sitting there in the
faculty meeting, I began to sense how my students must feel when they
get back papers that Ive covered with red ink!
Then my mind jumped to
the realization that now I wouldnt mind getting even one of
those corrected letters back from Dad. However, that would never
happen again, for I couldnt write any more letters to him; and
even if I did, there was no way he could respond. I felt guilty for
not calling him more often. I know he must have felt lonely as the
years marched on, Mom died, he aged, and my siblings and I went our
own ways. Because he was a very tender man, I know he must have shed
many tears over us.
As I sat there, first
I began sniffling. Then as intense emotions of love, combined with my
bottled-up sorrow, began washing over me, I realized that I could no
longer contain my tears. Quietly excusing myself, I went to the
ladies room and let the tears flow. Daddy is gone now,
truly gone! I will never again get a letter from him! I sobbed.
My mind instinctively turned to my heavenly Father.
Thank You for being
there for me now, for holding me in Your arms and comforting me.
Thank You for giving me Dad for my very own Daddy until this past
summer. Thank You for giving me the Christian home I enjoyed as a
child. Thank You for the fact that You will always be there for me,
whenever I need You, for Youll never die!
And thank You,
Jesus, for the tears You shed for me in Gethsemane. For Your red
blood that covered all the sins on the pages of my lifes
record, for Your blood sacrifice that covered all of my mistakes, all
of my sins. Thank You for not grading me on getting everything right,
but on my hearthow I feel when I sin, how I feel about Your
sacrifice for me, Your full payment for all of my sins.
Wow! No grade
for perfect writing! Plenty of red blood to correct all those
mistakes! And His tears to cleanse my heart! Tears are healing. I
washed my face and returned to the faculty meeting, thanking God that
soon He will wipe away all tears from our eyes. Ill see Daddy
again, disease free and pain free. There will be no more suffering,
death, sighing, or crying! That day cant come soon enough for
Will my red pen
bleed over the future papers my students write? What do
Janet Kahler writes from Auburn, California. The person who told her this
story wishes to remain anonymous.