I went to my calculator, and it figures to be over a thousand dollars –the total amount of money my dad had paid my kids when they got A’s.
$20 for straight A’s, and they had to be perfectly straight, or $1 for every A. My daughter graduated summa cum laude a few years ago, and I think that dangling carrot of financial reward played its part in the dangling cord on her neck.
A few days after my dad died, we laughed at my little nieces when they expressed great concern about what would happen to that A money. We made mom raise her right hand and promise that was one tradition she would have to keep going.
Phew, did they look relieved.
I informed the girls that mom had always been in the background on the phone, begging my dad to give one of the kids $20 when they got really close to straight A’s.
Oh, come on, Roger. An 89% is surely close enough to get $20, she would say.
Nope. All A’s or no $20, he would say.
So I told those little girls that grandma might be a soft touch.
When I got back to Montana after the funeral, there was a $20 check on the counter in my dad’s forceful handwriting –the reward for my son’s good grades. I cried and turned it over. Couldn’t bear to look at it.
The next day I took the check to the bank to cash it, and I sat there for a long time –check in one hand and drive-up tube in the other. How it hurt to put my dad’s handwriting into that tube and let it go away forever. I almost couldn’t do it. My heart twisted at what would not come from dad in the future.
But I stopped those thoughts.
Placing the check in the tube and hitting “send”, I chose thankfulness. How thankful I am to have had a dad who invested in my own success and then turned his attention to the success of my kids. I’m so thankful to have had a dad who cared and who was outrageously proud to see his family do well in everything.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15 NIV)
Every day we hold each life situation in our hands, and we choose grief or thankfulness.
Grief is easiest. We moan, If only… and mourn all the things that may not come.
Thankfulness raises its voice above the pain, Because God is good I have…
Thankfulness feels better.