* A FATHER’S DAY GIFT – An Inspiring Story by Jenna Ludwig

finalist  Ultimately, this story is about a gift I received from my father, posthumously, the year after he died. First, I’d like to tell you something about the man he was and why the gift was so important to me. Dad was my best friend growing up. We were alike in many ways. I have a strawberry birthmark on my right arm identical to and in the same location as the one that was on his right arm. We had the same droll sense of humor. When I was young, we ate sardines and crackers together in the kitchen, laughing when my other siblings would shy away from the smelly treat. I was the daughter who enjoyed snuggling up with Dad on the couch to watch his favorite cowboy and detective TV serials and was the first to try out the walking stilts he enjoyed making for us kids.

 I know Dad found our similarities endearing when I was a child. But as I grew older, certain other characteristics we shared, like fierce independence and a long stubborn streak, made us ‘butt heads’ more often than not. This was compounded by the fact that my mother died suddenly in automobile accident when I was 16, and my father remarried a woman with whom I did not get along.

 In 1965 I graduated from high school and went off to college.

Jenna’s High School graduation picture with her dad

As I recall, visits home were not always pleasant. I still loved my father very much, and knew he loved me, but when we talked, it often ended in a confrontation that was fueled by our differing points of view about everything from the war in Vietnam to how long my male friends should wear their hair. It seemed to me at the time that everyone was down with the news that The Times They Are A Changin’ except Dad and his whole pigheaded generation.

The year I met and fell in love with the person who was to become my husband was a particularly trying one for my father and me. Gene had long blond hair that hung to the middle of his back and enjoyed a freewheeling life on a sailboat that he and his father had built. Dad wasn’t impressed. He insisted that I reconsider my plans to leave school and marry Gene and come home instead. When I refused, he ceased speaking to me for over a year.

Under the circumstances, Gene and I decided to elope and were married quietly at a local Justice of the Peace. We celebrated after the ceremony by getting ice cream sundaes. We spent our first year together on our boat, docked close to where Gene was hired to help build a new marina in Englewood, Florida. When we became pregnant with our first child together, we moved off the boat and bought property in central Michigan where Gene’s parents lived at the time. By then, Dad and I were on speaking terms, but we were not as close as we once had been.

Married life was busy for Gene and me. We eventually had four children, designed our own house that we built to stand nestled in the woods on our property, and created a thriving wholesale fishing bait business in the resort area of Michigan where we lived. But no matter how busy we were, we always took time during the Christmas holidays to travel to Florida to visit my father and Jeanne— stepmother number two since my mother had died and the woman whom I grew to love over the 23 years they were married.

Jenna’s step mother Jeanne, with her Dad







About loiswstern

I was in education for just over 20 years when I unexpectedly pursued another passion and entered the world of authors and journalists. I have since published two non-fiction, full length books on different aspects of beauty, but also avidly endorse the confluence of Inner and Outer beauty. I have written feature articles for Long Island Beauty Guide and LI Woman, and have served as Editor-at-large for MakeMeHeal.com, the largest Internet site for plastic surgery and beauty needs. I enjoy researching what's new in the world of aesthetics & anti-aging and devote one of my blogs: www.FabulousBeautyBlog.wordpress.com to sharing cutting edge, hype-free information. I devote my second blog to my other passion: writing, collecting and sharing stories to warm the spirit and inspire the soul. To this end, I have created an 'Authors Helping Authors' project/contest, to create books for inspiration, the first of which is titled: Tales 2 Inspire ~ Beyond Coincidence. It is a jewel of a book, filled with inspiring stories and full color original photos and/or drawings. If you're a talented writer with one inspiring story to share, visit www.tales2inspire.com to learn how to participate. FREE to enter. All you need is the talent and perseverance to do so. Lots of positive platform building opportunities for the winners. Learn more at: www.tales2inspire.com.

Posted on May 22, 2014, in Inspiring stories, motivational stories, Tales2Inspire, TALES2INSPIRE WRTERS CONTEST, Words to Inspire and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Jenna Ludwig Cowles writes a charming, bittersweet memoir of her beloved father. She tells how close father and daughter are, until Jenna decides to leave college and marry someone beneath her father’s standards for his child. During a wonderful life with her husband and children, she and her father reconsile and their childhood closeness returns. When death takes both her father and husband within the same year, Jenna is devastated. While ruminating upon her father’s loss the following Father’s Day, she comes upon something special from her father . . . a wonderful keepsake and perfect Father’s Day Gift.

    • Thank you, Micki, for your kind portrayal of my story. I like how you recap and catch the special meaning of ‘the gift’ and what it meant to me. I do believe, as I know you do as well, that our deceased loved ones ‘speak’ to us in surprising ways to comfort us in our need.



  2. What a beautiful story of a daughter’s special relationship with her father, the challenges that such a close relationship can encounter as a daughter grows up and begins making her own choices, and a tender moment of synchronicity that brings healing after her father’s death. I love the idea that this message from her father was there for her to find at the very moment when she most needed it. How beautiful!

    • Dear Kenetha,
      How kind of you to read Jenna’s story and take the time to express how it touched you.
      As the creator of the TALES2INSPIRE Authors Helping Authors project, I feel a special pride each time another reader discovers one of these “tales” and takes the time to express their feelings. Thank you ever so much. I’m sure Jenna will be thrilled to read your words.
      Very best,
      Lois W. Stern
      To read more great stories, visit me on Facebook.

  3. Kitty Groendyk

    A touching story of the special love between a daughter and her father. This tells of how strong their love was even through the struggles of life’s challenges. Jenna’s father was truly watching over her, even after death, at a time when she needed him the most.

    • Dear Kitty,
      A special thank you to you for reading and commenting on Jenna’s beautiful story.As the creator of the TALES2INSPIRE Authors Helping Authors project, I am always touched by the number of people who discover these “tales” and take the time to comment. Thank you ever so much.
      Best regards,
      Lois W. Stern
      To read more great stories, visit me on Facebook.

  4. Elizabeth Fish Hospice Rn.

    What an amazing story of love and loss and the spiritual connection that links us beyond death. As a hospice nurse of over 15yrs I find it very inspirational, and will use it for encouragement in my grief counseling with my families I continue to care for in the bereavement stage of my work.

    • Dear Elizabeth,
      As the creator of the TALES2INSPIRE Authors Helping Authors project, I am continually amazed by the number of people who discover these “tales” and are touched by them. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I’m sure Jenna will be thrilled to read your words.
      Very best,
      Lois W. Stern
      To read more great stories, visit me on Facebook.

  5. Elizabeth Zack Siegel

    What a powerful and touching story about the love of you and your father, and how others played such an important part in it as well. The old adage “everything happens for a reason” surely shines through here. That letter you found was a gift from your father and God above, so that you may have peace in your heart. Perfect story of love, forgiveness, and peace.

  6. Thank you all for your kind words and coming to this site to read my story. Some of you know and love me and my father, others just understand that our loved ones who has passed over do, indeed, comfort us in many beautiful ways just when we need it the most.



  7. Janice Flanders

    Another beautiful story by Jenna Crowles! I was deeply touched by this story because I too was very close to my father. He died at the young age of 63.
    Jenna story reconnected me with my father and reminded me of my likeness to my father.
    It was heart warming. The story of love shared with us, her deep and loving father-daughter special connection was special indeed. I am sure her father and mine are beaming with their dry sense of humor. I can see them now, both proud as can be in their daughters.

    Thank you Jenna for sharing this wonderful story.

    Janice Flanders

  8. Diana Hartwell

    Thank you Jenna for sharing such a beautiful, touching and inspiring story. It shows that love is a bond that really can never be broke. And that it is never to late to repair anything that is broken. I always walk away in a “I feel good mood” after reading your stories. For me, the “Worms, Ernie. We grow and sell worms” that puts this story over the top.

    • Thanks so much for your comments, Diana! I got a lot out to retelling this story in writing (I had only entered it in my personal journal and not so extensively). Reading it aloud to my daughter was an emotional experience, as it brought back that day so clearly in my mind.

      Yes, Ernie, my dad, was quite a character as was Gene, my husband. They would banter back and forth and get a big kick out of each other.



  9. What a lovely story about the connection between a daughter and father. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  1. Pingback: INDEX OF TALES2INSPIRE ARTICLES – by Lois W. Stern « Tales2Inspire

  2. Pingback: TALES2INSPIRE ARTICLE INDEX – by Lois W. Stern « The Fabulous Beauty Blog

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