30 years worth of waking up before dawn; walking miles and miles in extreme heat, rain, snow, ice, sleet, and hail; countless falls off iced over porches no one cared to clear; and so many lives touched by the mailman who always lent a hand along his route. All the elderly who watched for him with a coke or coffee waiting, because maybe he was the only conversation they would have that day.
His college degree didn't take him where he thought it would, but he did whatever he had to do in order to support his family and he ended up as a letter carrier. Not his plan, no, but definitely God's!
He'll probably never see past mistakes he's made in his life, but I do. I've had the privilege of watching this man through a daughter's eyes.
I remember when he started at the USPS when I was 5. I remember the smell of Aramis cologne when he'd kiss me goodbye in the mornings, working to provide for his wife and three children. I remember him coming home and collapsing in bed from the exhaustion of his new job when he started. I remember running when he'd walk through the door in his blue shirt soaked with sweat and hanging on his big, strong arms. I've watched his spirituality change and grow with the years and I know without a doubt how many people on his mail route he gave a glimpse of Jesus to, whether he realizes it or not.
Oh, no, he didn't end up as a letter carrier by chance. For 30 years he carried out his role in a divine plan.
I watched as his body started to turn on him. I see the pain in his eyes that he doesn't often voice, I've prayed with him before surgery and definitely for him after. I've watched his muscles cramp and the days get harder and harder. But, I'm prouder of him now than I was as a little girl who thought her Daddy was the biggest, strongest guy in the world and could do pull ups on his biceps.
There is a different kind of strength in him now. Having watched my kids run to meet "Pa-pa" at the door in his blue shirt. Seeing him decide to give up "his" route for one that did not require so much walking. Now, as I look back on my life with understanding that my brother, sister, and I were always his "why" for working as hard as he did. Thank you to the greatest man I know for 30 years as "The Postman." And, thank you, to my Dad, for always making me your "why." I love you.