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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Prayer for Caroline

It's November. Browning leaves cling to barren branches. The skies have turned a resolute steel-blue.  Darkness comes too soon and a cold shiver spreads across our land.  Winter is on her way. 

Once upon a November, decades ago, there was a little girl with short blond hair wearing a blue wool coat, standing beside a woman draped in black.

Once upon another November, my own father died.  It was November 22, the anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. 

Unlike the girl in the blue wool coat,  I was an adult when my father died. Because of the date, the newspapers were filled with retrospectives of that dreadful day in Dallas. Having just lost my own father, I wondered how Caroline felt remembering the loss of hers. Despite the unbridgeable chasm in our social standing and sphere of influence, I felt a connection to the bereft little girl with the blond hair barretted on one side, the little girl who once basked in the love of a doting father. 

My father never sailed New England Waters. In all my childhood, we never afforded even one family vacation. Nor did we mingle with kings and princes. 

And yet, my father treated everyone he met as royalty, and he taught me to do the same. Everyone has their story, my father said. With an empathetic heart, he told me about the immigrant who cleaned his office at night and the taxi driver  haunted by his memories of the Holocaust. My father listened to everyone's story, and with a rosary in his pocket, he tried to make his world a better place. 

I think of my father ever day and miss him tremenously. I miss his honey voice, his kindness, his stories. I'm sure Caroline thinks of her father every day as well. When the skies turn steely blue and a cold shiver spreads across our land, I’m quite certain that the man Caroline misses isn’t a President, but a Father ~ a man who in everything important, was not much different than my father, a good man who modeled a life dedicated to the understanding and service of others. 

It's November. Soon the newspapers and blog posts will recall John F. Kennedy's assassination. On that day,  I'll be thinking of my own father. But I won't forget to say a prayer for Caroline.  May the tender ache that accompanies browning leaves and barren branches be assuaged by a joyful appreciation of our wonderful fathers ~ a gift more precious than any financial holding or social standing.

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