Arnold Madison, “Hand-Painted Tie,” Friend, Jun 1994, 30
Inasmuch as you have forgiven one another your trespasses, even so I, the Lord, forgive you (
As the school bus bumped along the rough road, Barbara bounced with excitement.
“You should see my Father’s Day gift,” she told Francine.
“Mr. Hansen, the art teacher, stayed after school for a few days to help me. It’s a hand-painted tie with all the soft colors my dad likes.”
“Do you have it with you?”
“It’s home on my desk, ready to be wrapped.”
“What if your dad goes into your room and sees it?” Francine said.
“He won’t. Dad left for work early this morning and won’t be home until after I’m home from school.”
The bus slowed for Barbara’s stop. Her spirits soared as she raced into her home and up the stairs. It was time to wrap her gift. But as soon as she reached the second floor, she knew something was wrong. Her bedroom door was wide open.
She raced into her bedroom and found her four-year-old brother sitting on the carpet, holding what was left of the treasured tie. Soft-colored scraps surrounded the shiny scissors on the floor. Ronnie’s pudgy fingers worked to knot the ragged tie about his neck, and he glanced up, an expectant smile creasing his round face.
“See? Now I look like Daddy.”
“How could you, Ronnie? You’ve ruined it!” Barbara dragged herself downstairs, collapsed onto a kitchen chair, and started sobbing.
Her mother was speaking on the phone, jotting notes on a pad. She eyed Barbara. “Let me call you back. Something’s come up.”
In one smooth movement, Mom was in a nearby chair. The story of the tie spilled out, and Mom nodded, her face serious.
“Now what am I going to do? I have no gift for Dad. And I worked so hard on that tie.”
“I’m sorry,” Mom said, “It must be a terrible disappointment. And now you have even more hard work ahead of you.”
“You mean making another tie?”
“No, I mean forgiving Ronnie.”
“After what he did?”
“As I said, it’s hard work. Forgiveness isn’t just words. Forgiveness includes honest feelings.”
Stunned, Barbara left the kitchen. Forgive her brother for wrecking Dad’s gift? How could she? Why should she?
She sat on the steps, trying to deal with her feelings. As she sat there, she argued silently with herself, “I shouldn’t have left it on my desk.” “Ronnie shouldn’t have gone into my room, either—that was my private space.” “But four-year-olds don’t understand privacy.”
With a wince, she recalled the pride and innocent pleasure on Ronnie’s face as he showed her that he just wanted to be like Dad. He wasn’t trying to hurt me, and he must have been hurt by what I said.
What I said—words. Mom had said that forgiveness was not just words, but honest feelings. With growing joy, Barbara realized she had feelings of love not only for Dad and Mom but for Ronnie too. Sincere feelings.
She hurried back to her room. Kneeling, she hugged Ronnie tightly. “I wanted to give Dad a super gift,” she explained. “That’s why I was upset by what you did. But you’re special to me too. Next time I’ll include you in my plans. Then the gift will be from both of us.”
“I think you just gave me a special gift,” Dad said from the doorway.
Barbara got to her feet, holding out the tie. “Sorry, Dad.”
“Sorry that you’re a feeling person who puts people ahead of material things? Don’t ever be sorry for that. I’m proud that you’re my daughter.”
Barbara flew into his arms. The wonderful sense of joy that she had felt on the stairs returned stronger than ever. Her family was more important than a piece of cloth.
[illustrations] Illustrated by Julie F. Young^ Back to top