When I was a kid, I attended a small private elementary school that provided lunch for students only two days a week. Every night I would pack my lunch in my pink and turquoise lunchbox, beg my parents for some quarters so I could get a Snapple from the vending machine, and place my lunch in the fridge.
The next day I would carry my lunch to school, stash my lunchbox in my cubby, and wait excitedly for lunchtime.
It wasn’t the peanut butter and honey sandwich I looked forward to so much (though those were awfully delicious, if I do say so myself), or the Snapple, or even whatever dessert I’d grabbed (homemade chocolate chip cookies, brownies…). What made my anticipation of the lunch hour so high was the hope that something extra would be in the box when I opened it.
My dad left for work before I made it upstairs in the morning. At the time he worked for an insurance company and had to commute into downtown, so he left early in order to avoid the big morning rush. But just because I rarely got to say goodbye to him before he left in the morning didn’t mean my dad wasn’t thinking of me.
I don’t remember how often it happened, but I seem to recall it was nearly every day. When I opened my lunchbox I’d find a note scrawled in blue pen on a white paper napkin, signed with my dad’s nonsensical “Z”-looking initial signature. The notes weren’t long; they were usually just one sentence: “Have a good day!” or “Love ya lots!” or “See you at dinner!” But as simple as they were, those notes made my day.
Someday when my kids are in school, I have every intention of resuming the tradition my dad started with me. To this day I still wish I could open my lunchbox and find a napkin note from my dad. And maybe a peanut butter and honey sandwich, too.