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by Judy Henrichs (11/22/2010)

Each year at Thanksgiving time I try to get into the minds of the children and discover what they might say to thank their parents if they had the ability to do so. This year, I would like to dedicate my Thanksgiving letter to my own parents who died a long time ago (Mom when I was 20, Dad when I was 30). Perhaps someday, when your children are adults, they will have the opportunity to say these kinds of things to you—things I never got to say to my own parents. And perhaps, if you have the blessing of having your parents still with you, you will take this opportunity to say all the things to them that I wish I had said before they were gone.

Dearest Dad,
You taught me so much that I didn’t understand until I was grown up. Now I realize how loyal you were to us and to your employer for having achieved 42 years of perfect attendance at work! It must have been very difficult for you to get up at 4:30 every day to go to the hard work at the machine shop. But you did it for us (and because that’s just who you were), and I am grateful for all you did and the loyalty, the dependability, and the virtue of sacrifice you taught me.
And Dad, it was you who would skip lunch (I learned many years later) on the day of my softball games so you could save your lunch money to take me out for ice cream after the game. And I smile inside to remember how you always surprised us kids with a very special gift that “Santa” rang the bell and left on the front porch each Christmas. The year I turned 8 and got my very own bike let me know that I really was your princess.
Dad, I will be forever grateful that you made sure we kids had the best education possible. So thanks for all the vacations and cars and personal things you let go of for us. I’m trying my best to pass your legacy on to others, so know that all your goodness was not in vain. I love you and am forever thankful that you were my Daddy.

Dearest Mom,
No one could have been a better teacher of how to love than you, Mom. You were always by our sides and always had our backs, no matter what life dealt us. I still picture you in your little, ragged housedresses with the faded apron that would cover up some of the holes. But we children always were sharp as a tack with our freshly pressed school uniforms every day. You dedicated every minute of your life to making sure we had the education to make something of our lives. Thank you, Mom. I am trying hard.
And through all your and Dad’s struggles to make ends meet, you still had a heart so big that you found room to care for 20 foster children as I grew up! I remember asking you why, and you telling me, “Someone needs to love them. They have no one and nothing, and we have so much!” Mom, you were an amazing woman and a fabulous role model for me. Thank you for all you taught me about life and love. I am trying hard to be such a model for your beautiful granddaughter who you never got to meet. You would be so proud to see how your spirit and your love live on in her every day.
Mom, you’ll be so pleased to know that the piano you bought for us kids now proudly resides in our elementary school so even more children can share the joyful love of music you gave us. Your legacy lives on, Mom, in this and in my heart. I love you and will always be thankful to have had such a wonderful Mom.

Happy Thanksgiving!
We are grateful for the privilege of having each of you in our lives and for the joy of being with your children!

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