When one of life's tribulations smacked me in the eye, I did not cry. I thought, instead, of Daddy's words from way back then.
I stood among the rubble, stunned by the devastation that my eyes beheld, and heard his words so strong and clear.
"Let me tell you something, little girl," he had said, looking square into my 16-year-old eyes. "Worry not over what hard work and money can replace."
My 16-year-old ears had been grateful for those words at that time. I had been leaving the Sears parking lot, when I bumped the family sedan into the rear quarter panel of another car. I was beside myself, scared of Daddy's reaction. A few minutes later, he pulled up in his truck, unfolded himself from the cab and sauntered over. I ran to him, sobbing.
"Oh Daddy, I'm sorry!" I blubbered. He was unperturbed. He looked at the minor damage, put his arm around me, then uttered the wisdom that would become a mainstay of comfort to me over the years that followed. He took out a pen and piece of paper and wrote a note including his phone number and placed it under the window shield.
"My daughter backed into your car. Call me and I'll fix it."
The lady later called and said, "Thank you so much for leaving that note. Some people wouldn't have."
But not Daddy. He always did what was right, and he often spoke rightly, much of it his own self-composed wisdom.
"Worry not over what hard work and money can replace," I heard him instruct as I looked as the mess, the remnant of what was my office and what had been the house that Daddy built, much of it with his own hands, fifty years ago.
I took a deep breath then smiled heavenward. "You're right, Daddy."
When Mama died, I bought the little brick bungalow to use as my office. While I had been traveling hither and yon, a water line in the ceiling had broken. Utter rubble lay at my feet. The ceilings in two rooms had fallen and the water throughout the house was deep enough that Dixie Dew, my dachshund, was learning to swim for the first time. She pulled up one wet paw and looked askance at me.
"I know," I mumbled. "You need your rain coat. But who knew this is what we'd find."
After a moment of shock, I set into recovery mode. The world's best neighbor, Doug, arrived to turn off the water at the meter, then friends, Mike, Jon and Brandon, showed up.
"I heard there was a damsel in distress," Mike announced in a long, country drawl when he walked in. "And I have come to rescue her." Ankle deep in water, crumbled dry wall and scattered insulation, I found so much humor in his words and delivery that I bent over double with laughter.
"You should rename this place, Noah's House," Karen offered.
For some reason, I didn't find that as funny as Mike's comment. But, still, Daddy's words reached across the years and the great eternal divide to guide me. I fretted not over the wood floors recently installed or the newly painted walls bubbling with water. All of that could be replaced with money and hard work.
Then I panicked. The water had poured down on an antique desk, and what was in it could not be replaced. There was a Valentine that I had mailed Mama back in 1987. I had created the card and written a poem in red ink to express my gratitude for her belief in me. Her tears had washed away the ink in places so she had inked the words back in.
It was a week before the swollen drawers eased enough to open, but there, in a little plastic bag, was that card, perfectly preserved.
Nothing else mattered.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of "What Southern Women Know About Faith." Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her weekly newsletter.