By Gibson Goff
If you have never received a hand written thank you note, you have missed out on one of life’s greatest, yet simplest pleasures. We have just received one, from a completely unexpected source. It immediately reminded me of the gentleness of life, the value of friends, and the power of this little note.
The four of us had just been out to a TGIF dinner. My wife and I, with another married couple we’re lucky enough to call friends. My wife, and the husband of the other two, worked together. Now, as time goes on, we are all self employed, unemployed, or still employed, elsewhere.
But we share a common bond of friendship, and of family. We enthuse, cajole, and commiserate when needed. We cook dinner, we Bar-B-Que, we rescue each other when we break down.
And we share our struggles with our much ailing, elderly moms. We act as sounding boards for each other when our frustration levels runneth over. We listen to stories of the early onset of dementia, the unexpected outburst of anger, and the (we hope unintended) betrayal of us children.
This Friday was an especially important TGIF event at dinner. It was our first – the week had been that bad. Dina is recovering from knee surgery – a full joint replacement. Bruce, her husband, was passed over for promotion, through no fault of his own, but the product of a first time, shoot from the hip supervisor.
My wife Donna has been helping our mom, and an elderly neighbor with doctor’s appointments, and their immediate medical needs. They appreciate it, in their own way. But they are very quick to harshly point out anything [perceived] wrong in their lives at the moment. Including my wife’s actions.
And I have learned I’m being replaced by a management company for the property I manage. Not a huge deal – I have wanted out of the deal for a while – but the methodology used left a big hole in me when I was stabbed in the proverbial back.
It was definitely a TGIF dinner tonight. It was a night of wings, mahimahi, beer, desert, more beer, and laughter. A whole bunch of laughter. We toasted it being TGIF. We refused to do anything but laugh at our circumstance. We poked fun at our adversaries.
And we talked about all the crazy things our moms had done that week. We talked about the memory lapse between the upstairs living room, and the downstairs apartment. We talked about the leg rash that has been ruled out as scabies or shingles. And we talked about the latest purchases from QVC, Fingerhut, and Publisher’s Clearing House.
We still try to take it all in stride, regardless of the pressure. Or the ill placed, harsh remarks.
So when Bruce said he was out at the store the other day buying corn flakes, we offered our two bags and a box that we thought we would have liked. We didn’t. So the two bags, and the king sized box were relegated to surplus. We gladly offered them. And Bruce gladly accepted them, since they were for their mother. Well, at least someone would get use out of them.
Time has a habit of teaching us a lesson. Of feeding us a big old slice of humble pie. And of healing old wounds. Tonight, it did just that.
When we pulled up to park at home after dinner, we were somewhat surprised to see Bruce and Dina right next to us in their car. He was smiling broadly, and still firing zingers at us. In his hand he held a pale green, square envelope. Bruce handed it to Donna and said, “Oh yeah, this is for you.” We joked a little more and went inside, Bruce and Dina continued on home.
My wife set her things down in the kitchen and opened the envelope. In scratchy, cursive writing was a simple, yet elegant message: “Love and thanks for my cereal – Juanita.”
It’s those lucid moments we wish for. It’s those brief seconds, where we are reminded that they really do love us. And that they don’t remember saying those nasty things to us. Elderly parent, tyrannical client, or unbearable supervisor, we don’t really care who it is, when they will at least say, “Thank you.”
If you can’t say it in person, but you need the message to be as profound when it reaches it’s destination as if you said it then and there, get out the stationary and write a simple thank you note. Not electronically. Get out a pen, and with your own hand, script a message of true thanks.
Then set down your pen, seal the envelope, and send it on it’s way. Send one of the most powerful, yet oft forgotten, communications available between two people. Just say, thank you.
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