The Valentine candy incident.Posted: February 14, 2022
Every Valentine’s Day, I think about this story about my Dad.
As a kid, I had a sweet tooth. (As an adult, I have a sweet tooth too, but let’s leave that for now.) And when I was eight or nine, I was just starting to figure out where my parents kept the candy before holidays.
Valentine’s Day was coming up and I just REALLY wanted some candy. I knew Dad was hiding the stash he was going to give us in the old cabinet at the end of the hallway. I thought I could just open it up, take something small, and no one would notice. So, my ambition outpacing my moral faculty, I messed with the cabinet until it opened. There was the candy—foil-wrapped chocolate hearts and all! But there was nothing small I could easily take, and now I felt kinda guilty about the whole business, so I closed the cabinet door.
Except…it wouldn’t close.
There was something wrong with the lock. I couldn’t get it the key to stick! Something was gumming it all up! I struggled with it a bit more, and then got bored and thought “well, this is good enough, no one will notice anyway,” and went off to do something else.
An hour later, Dad found me and told me to come follow him.
He seemed pretty angry. We stood in front of the cabinet. He explained to me that it was an antique, and I’d broken it, and now I was going to stand there while he tried to fix it.
I did. It was awful.
The longer I stood there, the worse I felt, watching him get out his whole toolbox and struggle to fix the lock, nothing working, angry and silent the whole time.
And he could see it on my face. After ten minutes, he relented and said I could go. I did. I went straight to my room and, instead of sitting on my bed, crawled *under* my bed because I didn’t feel worthy to sit *on* my bed. I just felt terrible. I lay there and kept feeling terrible.
Eventually I felt like I had to do something. So I crawled out from under my bed, got a pen and paper, crawled back under my bed, and wrote a note to Dad: that I was SO sorry, that I felt SO bad, and that I was under my bed “breathing dust” because I felt so bad.
Then I folded up the note and put it in an envelope. And who should happen to walk by my door just then, than Abby, the sweet family dog. (This is Abby. I still dream about her. She was such a very good girl.)
I pulled her into my room and asked her to wait. I got out a hole puncher and some yarn, and then hung the note around her neck, and told her to “go find Dad.” She ambled out of the room.
I waited. Ten minutes passed. Fifteen. Twenty.
I began to lose faith in Abby.
Then, just as I was about to give up hope…she ambled right back into my room. And this time, she had a new note tied around her neck.
I opened it up. This is what it said:
Here’s the text:
Of course I know you felt pretty bad about it, and I presumed you were sorry. And I was glad to get your note, via Abby (who seemed sorry, too), and now I know you are sorry and accept your apology. We are still friends, and I never stop loving you even when you are naughty and I am angry.
You must admit, it is good for the soul to say it face to face. It is also very difficult because SO much emotion is near the surface. Work on that next time you offend someone or me; take the initiative, go to them and tell them you’re sorry. It’s not a sign of weakness, but of strength, and if the person doesn’t accept your apology, that’s their problem then, not yours. But you’d be surprised how good it feels after you say it. And how good the hug feels after, too. Why don’t you give me one, after you read this?
I’m sorry there was dust under your bed. Is it time to clean your room?
I crawled out from under the bed and went straight to my Dad’s study and gave him a hug. And I cried, and we talked a little, and we were okay again.
When Valentine’s Day arrived, we enjoyed all of the candy, at the right time…plus Dad had gotten me something extra:
I’m going to resist tying this up by making huge extrapolations about who he was, who I am, or how we influenced each other. But, just: this is what I mean when I say my Dad was also my best friend. And why I miss him. Happy Valentine’s Day, Dad. I love you.