A Hug for Papa

It was Christmas Eve as Sissy looked down at her papa. He looked so
old and frail now. The Dr. was talking to her, trying to comfort her,  
while telling her that he might not pull through. Tho' she was
listening she continued to stare down at her papa, with tears in her eyes.  
She was tired for she had been up all night at the hospital. She walked quietly  
out of the room, down the hallway, and found an empty chair in the lobby and  
sat down. She closed her eyes and tried to relax. Suddenly her thoughts went  
back to many years ago; back to when she was just a little girl.

Sissy was born in Alabama back in 1952. Her mother died when she was
a year old. Her papa had raised her by himself. He was a logger and
worked long and hard hours six days a week to support them. Their neighbor,
Miss Betsy who lived next door, took care of Sissy until her papa got
home every night from work. Oh how she adored her papa. She knew how
much he loved her too. He had been such a good daddy to her, all her
life.  Papa was a good man, but most importantly, he was a Christain
who loved the Lord. Sissy knew that if her papa hadn't seen to it
that they'd attended a good Bible Believing Church while raising her,
that she herself might never have heard God's Word and gotten  Saved.
Sissy had trusted in Christ as her Personal Saviour when she was
twelve years old.

She was six years old and had come down with the measles. Miss  
Betsy had fixed up a cot for her in her livingroom by the fireplace. Papa
would be there soon to take her home. Just after dark she heard him come in  
and ask Miss Betsy how she was doing; if her fever had subsided. Then as
always, he picked up her to carry her home, next door. And as always
he looked down at her and asked "Have you a hug for papa ?" Sissy smiled
and gave him a big hug. It was something she looked forward to every day,
her papa coming home from work and asking for his hug. For as long as
she could remember, he'd asked her "have you a hug for papa ?".

When she was seven she got a bicycle for Christmas from papa. She was
doing pretty good learning how to ride it by the third day but got
a little too confident and couldn't stop in time and slid off into a ditch.
She got a big cut on her knee. When papa got home that night he saw
the bandaid on her leg and picked her up and asked what had happened.
Later that night he'd smiled and told her how proud of her he was for doing  
so well, learning how to ride her new bicycle all by herself. Suddenly her knee  
didn't hurt so much anymore as her papa gave her a hug and asked  
"have you a hug for papa ?".

Now she was ten and had just come home from school. Some of the children
in her classroom had teased and made fun of her because she had no  
mother. They had called her "the orphan girl". They'd called her other  
hurtful names as well. When her papa got home from work that night he  
knew that she'd been crying because her eyes were red and
swollen. She ran over to him and smiled her biggest smile. She didn't like
for her papa to see her upset. He worried enough as it was about things.
He worked so hard and was so good to her, she could never bare to see him
worrying or hurt. She knew the one thing that could hurt him was to see
her hurt. As she smiled up at him, he looked down at her and asked "Have
you a hug for papa ?".

What would she do without her wonderful papa? He just had to pull through.  
All they'd had when she was growing up was each other. Well, Miss Betsy too,
because she always took such good care of Sissy while her papa was  
working. In a way Miss Betsy was just like a mother to her. She
was a spinster and Sissy guessed she was about ten years older than her papa.

On her 12th birthday, her papa asked her if she would like to have a
birthday party and invite some of her school friends. "Oh what a wonderful
idea!" So Sissy got busy and made the invitations herself out of construction  
paper and crayons. She'd passed out the invites the next day at school. Four  
days later on her birthday she'd gotten up extra early that Sat. morning and  
she and her papa together decorated the livingroom and kitchen. They'd hung  
balloons and other decorations Sissy had made.  By 2:00 noone had shown  
up yet.  By 3:00 still noone had knocked on the front door. Then by 4:00  
she and papa knew that there would be noone from school coming to her
birthday party. Sissy and papa together quietly took down all the party  
decorations. She was determined not to cry; not to show how hurt and sad she  
was, in front of papa. As she got ready for bed that night, she knelt down with  
her papa, as always, to pray. When he tucked her in minutes later, he looked  
down at his little girl and asked "Have you a hug for papa ?"  She gave  
him a big hug and felt a single tear trickling down her cheek. Papa gently  
brushed it away with his big caloused hand and told her "don't worry  
honey, everything's going to be alright."

She was 16 and getting ready for her High School Prom. Miss Betsy had been
so sweet about insisting that she make Sissy's prom dress for her. It had
turned out so pretty - a soft yellow adorned with white lace. As Sissy put
the final touches on her new and rather sophisticated hair-do, she grabbed  
her clutch purse and went to tell papa goodbye. Papa's eyes lit up as  
Sissy entered the room. His little girl was almost all grown up! My how  
the years had flown by, he was thinking.

There was a knock on the door. Sissy's date had arrived.
"Just a minute Sissy, there's something I want to give you before you leave."
He reached into his pocked and pulled out a pearl necklace. "This was your
mother's necklace. I gave it to her on our wedding day. I'd like for you to
have it now."  Tears filled in Sissy's eyes as she stood in front of the
mirror there in the livingroom and put on her mother's pearl necklace."

"Oh papa! It's so beautiful, thank you, with all my heart. I'll treasure it  

As Sissy walked toward the front door, papa said "Hold on just a minute
there.....Have you a hug for papa before you go ?"  Sissy smiled and
walked over and gave her papa a big hug.

Sissy stood up and walked down the hallway back to her papa's room  
At least he seemed to be sleeping peacefully now. She pulled a  
chair over next to his bed and quietly put her hand in his. He stirred.  
Suddenly his eyes opened. And just at that moment, the Dr. walked in.  
"Well I see you're awake now"  he said with a grin.

"We just got all of your test results back and it looks like you're going to
be around for a while."  Upon hearing the good news, Sissy could no longer
hold back the tears in front of papa. She said a silent prayer of thanks to God.

After the Dr. left the room, Sissy, still holding on to papa's hand, smiled down at  
him and he smiled back. No better news could she get on this Christmas  
Eve! Her papa was going to pull through!

She told her papa she'd be back first thing in the morning and for him to try
to get a good night's sleep. As she stood up to leave, her papa looked up  
at her and with a sudden twinkle in his eyes asked

"Have you a hug for papa ?"


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