A single parent one day came home to his three children yelling at each other. The eldest had just successfully pulled the “You were adopted” con on his baby sister, Shirley, and things blew up from there in perfect sit-com fashion but without the laugh track in the background.
In the commotion, the middle child, Mark, knocked the eldest into the hearth knocking over the picture of their deceased mother, shattering the frame.
“Step away from that picture!” yelled the father.
He walked up to the frame and gently started gathering the pieces together. He took the picture out and placed it on the hearth without the frame.
“Well, get me a dust pan!”
“You get it Shirley.”
“No, YOU get it John.”
“I’m not getting it.”
“FINE!,” yelled the father, “I’ll get the dust pan to clean up the glass around your mother’s picture.”
Guilt descended like a cold front.
The father caught his angry mood, and seeing a teachable moment held out his two fists and counted to ten extending one finger at a time very slowly. When his hands showed ten, his face was kinder.
“I’m sorry. Each of you go to your room while I clean this up.”
“I’ll help daddy,” said Shirley.
“No, I’ve got it. Go to your room.”
He cleaned up the glass and threw away the frame. The house was quiet for a whole minute while he held her image.
He kissed her and put her back and said.
“Sweetie, what I’m about to do now is GENIUS.”
He cupped his hands on his mouth.
“Kids! Get back here!”
They all wandered in. He sat in his chair and smiled.
“Yesterday, Shirley asked me when I picked her up from kindergarden which of you I loved the most. I told her I would have to think about it, and today it’s time to know for sure!”
Puzzled looks abounded.
“Shirley, come hug me.”
As Shirley hugged him, he winked at the other two.
“Oh Shirley, you are so insightful! You have your mother’s eyes. I have made my decision. I LOVE YOU THE MOST. But to be fair, I need to hug the other two. So step back and let me hug John. John, come here and hug me.”
John hugged him as he winked at Shirley and Mark.
“Oh, I was wrong! John has your mother’s heart, I guess I love him the most. But to be fair I need to hug Mark and give him a chance too. Mark come over here.”
Mark came over and hugged his father.
“Mark, you have your mother’s sense of humor. Oh, I’m so silly. I LOVE YOU THE MOST, but wait a minute step over there with your brother and sister.”
They all lined up.
“Oh, it’s just a trick of my heart! I get it now Shirley! It seems that I always love one of you more than the others and it’s always the one I’m hugging!”
The eldest whispered to the other two and all three hugged him at once. Shirley had him by the knee.
“Which one now?” asked Shirley.
He didn’t expect this. He tried not to cry. But the naked portrait on the fireplace was overpowering.
He thought of his wife’s auto accident and her decision to never to receive a blood transfusion. He stared at her Bible on the bookshelf. It was the same Bible she took door to door to share the testimony of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“The one I can’t hug this side of Heaven.”