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
THIS STORY CONTINUES IN THE
TALES2INSPIRE ™ SAPPHIRE COLLECTION
Talk about beauty within! If you haven’t seen 94 year old Mathilda Klein on stage, you need to watch this unbelievable video.
Can you visualize yourself doing this when you are 94 years of age? Can you envision yourself doing it now?
Mathilda Klein appears on the dance floor – shuffling along with the aid of her walker, shoulders bent forward, hair covered under netting. Her youthful dance partner rocks her gently from side to side. Slowly, ever so sweetly, he helps this butterfly emerge from her cocoon. What happens next is truly inspirational. If you haven’t seen this video yet, take a moment to watch it now. Guaranteed to brighten your day.
Remember: Beauty abounds at all ages, in this case, even on the stage.
Mathilda Klein – 94 years young
We welcome your review of this story in the Comment box below. Your name and credentials will be included with any review we post on Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s highly respected Book Review Blog under the TALES2INSPIRE banner.
Beauty Without . . .
What’s Your Passion?
Cheryl recaptures the love and admiration she holds so dear for a woman who just happens to be her mother. Loreane Rose connected with all and judged none.
This author asks: “Are we really ashamed of the poor or are we ashamed of ourselves for letting them down? “She hopes her mother’s example will help us see others unlike ourselves a bit differently.