Find Joys and Make Wishes

. November 1, 2016.

Although I close each column with a reminder to “cherish the moments,” not all of life’s moments feel cherishable. Life is hard sometimes. Many times I’d like to shelter my 12-year-old daughter, Jessie, from the headlines and photographs of a world that seems in continual turmoil. Let’s face it. Every family has challenges – health issues, financial problems, job pressures, relationship turmoils, and parental stresses. Part of what made the year challenging for me was our family’s move. Unfortunately, our 300-mile move south from Georgia to central Florida motivated my hairline to recede north. Many of those that didn’t leap off my head prior to crossing the state border turned gray in protest.

Find your joy

As I packed the contents of my desk in preparation for the move, I came across the clipped-out obituary of a wonderful lady, Teri, who passed away in 2013. She courageously fought a long battle with breast cancer. Teri’s touching obituary read, “Her favorite saying during her times of trial was ‘find your joy.’”

Find your joy! How wonderful that Teri chose to say this during downtimes of trial and not just the happiest times. I’ve been blessed with many joys, none bigger than the birth of my precious daughter and having the privilege to watch her grow into a beautiful young lady. Jessie has provided me with more joys in her 12 years than I could ever have imagined.

Last night, we had a dual celebration for Jessie and her grandfather, who have the same birthday. Granddaddy’s been a good sport through the years as he always lets Jessie choose the design and flavor of their shared birthday cake. He once had a princess cake. 

This year’s cake featured turquoise roses, pink writing, and sprinkles. Jessie placed 12 candles in their cake. She and her grandfather stood at the end of the kitchen table as we lit the candles and sang. Granddaddy bent over in preparation to blow out the candles, but suddenly, Jessie blew out all 12 candles with one powerful gust. 

The room erupted with laughter. I asked, “Should we relight the candles to give Granddaddy a chance to make a wish?” Jessie quickly responded, “I really want my wish to come true.” Being a loving grandfather, he agreed to forfeit his candle blowing for her. It was a joyous moment.

Wishes for the future

That night, as I tucked her into bed, Jessie asked if she could tell me what she wished and I wouldn’t tell anyone else. She didn’t want to ruin the wish by telling people, but she wanted me to know. When she blew out the candles, she had made a wish for a solution to a problem that I had shared with her which had been worrying me had been worrying me.

In a few weeks, families will gather for Thanksgiving to remember their blessings. Jessie, with her kind heart, will be at the top of my long list. Yes, we all have challenges, but joys are also abundant.  We find them in the sunrise or sunset on a beautiful fall day, a child’s giggle, a spouse’s embrace, or a pet’s enthusiastic welcome-home greeting. We can also make wishes – with or without candles – and have hope for the future. Life is good! Until next month, remember to cherish the moments. Happy Thanksgiving!

Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in
banking, accounting, and auditing before he became a father at age 44.
He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad, and writer.