Dear Dad, Here’s an idea…
Here’s an idea I had today. I was trying to figure out how, at our ages, I would like to begin a conversation with you. So I had this wild idea, based on my experience with the other main man in my life, my husband.
I think you don’t want to be bored with all the details—though I’m going to tell you a few anyway. But first, here’s the idea in a nutshell: I want to introduce myself to you as I am today.
Doesn’t sound very interesting or new? Maybe it isn’t, but here’s a bit of background.
When I started teaching at the seminary in 1983, I kept hearing students talking to each other about their ‘letters.’ In fact, they were eager to exchange this bit of information with all their friends. A few even asked me what my ‘letters’ were!
At first I was totally in the dark. When I found out what they were talking about, I thought it was all hocus pocus. A waste of time and effort. Probably not helpful in the long run–maybe even harmful.
Yet there was no way to avoid it. Every semester new students took the test and started talking about their ‘letters.’ By now I knew the letters were a way of summarizing their personality types. I was not impressed. Why would anyone need a test to figure out that? And what difference did it make anyway? Besides, I was a Very Private Person! Why would I want anyone to know my ‘letters’?
Well, in the meantime I’m living with this man I think I understand. We’ve been married for about 20 years already. Nonetheless, from time to time I didn’t know what else to do except throw up my hands and blurt out, “Men are from Mars! Women are from Venus!” In other words, I don’t understand you, you don’t understand me, and that’s that. And yes, sometimes he said that to me.
I can’t remember when I decided to find out my ‘letters.’ I felt a bit sheepish about it, because I’d resisted for a long time. But now I was starting to feel left out. My students and some of my teaching colleagues actually seemed to enjoy and appreciate this way of thinking about themselves. Especially because it helped them understand how to relate to each other. Bingo!
So I got my courage together and asked my psychology colleague whether I could take the test, too. Sure! He handed me the test immediately. All I had to do was take it, return it to him, and then we could talk about it—to be sure I understood what it meant and what it didn’t mean. I’ve never regretted it.
Here’s where I’m going with this. Finding out my ‘letters’ was the single most powerful thing I ever did to help me understand myself and the way I relate with other people. In fact, I’d say it helped me understand my relationship with God, the Divine Gardener who created me.
So what are my ‘letters’? And why should that matter to the two of us? I don’t have time to talk about all that right now. But I’d love to say more about it. Not because I don’t think you know me, but because I now know myself better than I did when I was a child, teenager, and young adult. One way of talking about it is to tell you about my ‘letters.’
So unless I hear a huge, clear NO WAY, I’m going to do just that.
I saved the photo at the top just for you. We saw this amazing specimen in December. It reminds me that God, as the Divine Gardener, is willing to wait patiently for me to bear the fruit God created me to bear. Even though it may take years of pruning and watering, watching and waiting.
Love and hugs,
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 January 2015
Photo credit: DAFraser, December 2014, Longwood Gardens PA