What was scrawled across the back of the envelope in Big Bro's handwriting, but still him, with his little signature "Bull" face (his nickname), is "Still up at 7:30 every day after chasing Rommel across AFRICA! What a Hero, WWII Vet. OUR Dad!!
These cards, these notes. It's a ritual that's gone on 50 years. It is one I will so miss, for it offers that steady comfort of routine that has become, with time, the liturgy of our lives.
Is it the abiding strength? That which radiates from within, a calm and unflinching repose when problems arise? Is it that which cloaks itself with outward trappings and values that have withstood generations, that bone deep integrity that makes you feel at peace in the company thereof?
Is it commitment? That pinky promise/blood oath of childhood in the guise of an adult, that bond, that betrothal that is worthy of the word by its history. It's not summoned or bartered or held hostage. It's there, like flowers that bloom each year, their scent spread with the rain, so when the heavens open up to flood your world, their presence is upon you, like warm, steady breath.
Is it a name? Father, brother, husband, wife, daughter, son. If you are blessed, it is a name that you can see take shape, one that you can say until the name solidifies into something tangible, a form you can hold on to, remaining even after the air goes silent and the form is nothing but an empty doorway, framed in the fading light of Glory.
If you're lucky you will have that. If you lose it, mourn its passing. If you find it, never let it go.