Seriously, it was the best love letter!
I was in high school. The summer before my sophomore year, I lived with and worked for my uncle in another town about an hour away. Through their church, I met two sisters, one also about to be a sophomore and one a junior.
I was pretty naïve then, like Forest Gump at a dogfight naïve.
Anyway, the sisters were from a great family of five! They were great! Their parents were so hospitable and fun, and I was invited by one of the sisters to come to their house a number of times that summer.
They also had a swimming pool. Swimming pools weren’t as common back then, and to a high school kid during a 100% humidity of summer heat on the Texas Gulf Coast after working outside all day, swimming was a welcome relief!
One night after church in late summer, the girl’s dad was talking to my uncle. They were laughing, saw me, and called me over.
As I walked up, the girl’s dad said to my uncle, “Watch! I’ll show you!”
He said, “Jeff”, and then paused.
Instinctively I answered, “Yes sir.?”
With a grin he said, “You have no idea what kind of problems you’ve caused me, do you?”
I almost swallowed my tongue! They were nice folks! The last thing I wanted to do was cause problems.
“No sir! I’m sorry! Have I done something wrong!?”
He turned to my uncle, “See! I told you!”
They burst out laughing.
I was Forest Gump confused, but knew whatever they were laughing at was at my expense.
At the end of summer, after someone told me, I realized both sisters didn’t just like me….they like, ‘liked’ me.
To make it worse, their 4-year-old sister was telling them both she was going to marry me.
Since I was so Forest Gump naive to pick up on the signals, which were apparently very bright and loud, they found it funny.
Now as a granddad and father of four adult daughters, I just shake my head. But then, not a clue!
Under the circumstances that summer, I unknowingly caused their father as much chaos as a stray cat with a steak tied around its neck running the hallways of a dog show!
When summer ended and I moved back home, I wrote a couple of answer letters back and forth to the two sisters before it just evaporated.
However, their baby sister also wrote me letters. I dutifully answered the little Shirley Temple by mail each and every time, and even sent her a birthday card.
I threw all the letters away after answering them, but I kept one, one from the baby sister! It was just too precious not to keep!
It’s postmarked January 16, 1979. Below is the best love letter ever, along with its interpretation:
Jeff, hello. I love you. Thank you for the card. I am 5 years old now. Are you going to come swimming this summer??
Guess what, Wayne has a new girlfriend. I miss you. I haven’t seen you in a long time. How have you been?
I went to the show. Our church is growing. I’ll call you. Bye. Love, (I blotted out her name at the bottom.)
How can you not treasure a letter like that?
The innocence of childhood and the sincerity of small children is where the essence of life is found.
For all of our adult wisdom, there’s something pure and healing in the wonder of a child’s eyes.
Children’s eyes are opened to the cruel realities of the world as they grow in stature and experience. Yet it’s the loss of pure innocence that we need to hold onto ourselves.
Life’s hacks, hurts and hits mar the heart. If we’re not careful, over time we can become so humbug, heavy and hard.
It’s refreshing to see the happy expression of a small child holding a wiggling puppy and wonder which one is more excited.
It’s soothing to see the sparkle of Christmas lights reflecting in a small child’s eyes as they wonder over a tree with presents underneath.
It’s energizing to see delight in the eyes of a small child who sees life through pure spectacles of trust, kindness and joy.
As adults, sometime, somewhere along life’s path, we tend to lose our childhood heart. We let it slip away like wind through the fingers. We try to grab it back, but it just blows on by.
Maybe that’s why I’ve kept this letter all these years?
It takes me back in time.
It’s a reminder of a child’s innocent heart, a young teenager’s unspotted naivety, and life before problems, mistakes and regrets calloused the heart.
It’s a pillar, a monument in time, one where I can remember a small thimble of invisible air, something written that hasn’t completely slipped through my fingers in the winds of time.
Oh to cast aside the heart’s callouses and return to a simple life in its purest form!
Maybe the love in a child’s heart is the purest of all love?
I try to remember, but I really don’t know.