Quite unfortunately, I am a much better grandfather than I ever was a father. As I look back now, I am very ashamed of the irritability and impatience I showed towards my three children. I am much more understanding now, and I have a patience I never had as a young man. Old too soon. Smart too late.

My contributor, Ms. Hansen, sent me an article that, while I liked it, brought up the long-buried hurt of my shortcomings as a dad. It was a bittersweet story. An emotional tale, but a harsh finger-pointer.

The story goes that some time ago, a mother punished her five-year old daughter for wasting a roll of expensive gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and she became even more upset when the child used gold wrapping paper to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her mother Christmas morning and then said, “This is for you, Mama.” The mother was embarrassed by her earlier over-reaction, but her anger flared again when she opened the box and found that it was empty. She spoke to her daughter in a harsh manner. “Don’t you know, young lady, when you give someone a present there’s supposed to be something inside the package?”

The little girl had tears in her eyes and said, “Oh, Mama, it’s not empty! I blew kisses into it until is was full.” The mother was crushed. She fell on her knees and put her arms around her little girl and she begged her forgiveness for her thoughtless anger. An accident took the life of the child a short time later, and it is told that the mother kept the gold box by her bed for all the years of her life.

Whenever the mother was discouraged or faced difficult problems, she would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the child who put it there.

Because of the kindly Man Upstairs, my three children are still with me and have grown families of their own. Still – Tom, Cindy and Alice – I beg your forgiveness for my insensitivity and thoughtlessness in your younger years ... perhaps for even my thoughts and actions today. I love you.

Readers, give a little thought today to the loving family that surrounds you. Do they need a hug instead of a reprimand? Just maybe they do. Hastily muttered phrases and thoughtless actions are like blown feathers in a violent wind. They can never be retrieved. Don’t look back with regret as Ol’ Crank does.