Thank You is the Best Prayer

Yesterday my father-in-law gave me a quick call to thank me for hosting our Father’s Day cookout, and then after choking up a bit, he thanked me for being a part of his family. It was a simple gesture that gave me pause. Now my husband will say his dad has mellowed in his old age. He has become more sentimental and nostalgic, but what I know is this thank you came from a deep place in his heart and he wanted to make sure I heard it.

I remember my own dad before his illness overtook him. He was not a overly affectionate father when we were growing up, but later, he often put his arm around us and whispered sweet words into our ears. He wanted us to know how proud he was of us. We were his joy. I will forever cherish those precious thank you’s from my dad.

I think some of us take thank you’s for granted. After we receive graduation, wedding, and shower gifts, we are expected to sit down with a pile of clean notecards and spew out inane words of thanks. It’s etiquette. It’s good manners. It’s what we’re supposed to do. Then when we get these notes in the mail, they are read quickly and then tossed into recycling.

The thank you’s that mean the most are the unexpected ones, the one we don’t see coming. The other day I received a thank you note for a thank you note I sent. I worked with Bob, a wonderful, gruff, funny, and extraordinary art teacher at my school. Both he and I retired at the end of the school year, but he missed his last month of school because of a serious infection. At every end of the year retirement reception, the retirees would receive these quirky and fabulous caricatures that Bob drew. This year as I unwrapped mine, I couldn’t thank Bob personally because he didn’t make the reception because he was so sick. I sent him a thank you note for the picture, and not two days later I got a thank you note from him thanking me for our friendship! I never expected a thank you note for a thank you note! It was lovely.

Our lives are incredibly short hikes down rough and rocky terrain. It is imperative we thank those who make it worth the journey.

“‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” ~Alice Walker