Paul Franklin Hoffman was born on March 1st, 1935 and died on April 10th, 1994. He was 59 years old and I was 18. I miss him so much. I have so many memories, too many to recount here. I have a “memory box,” a small shoe box that is half-full with a few photos, a $2 bill, some mass cards from his funeral, and three very special letters from him to me. I received exactly three letters from him in my lifetime – one while I was at camp at age 12, one while I was in Mexico at age 17, and one when I was on a confirmation retreat with my church. I think I was 16, in my junior year of high school, when I went on the Search Retreat. I still read that letter every few years to remember who I was then and where I wanted to be now. Sometimes I feel guilty that I’ve strayed so far from that young girl that my dad knew, other times I feel that I would make him proud. I wish so much that he was here to give me guidance with his wisdom, and to see my beautiful children. I used to feel that I was robbed of the wedding dance, or having him at my college graduation, but those times seem meaningless now. I would give just about anything for one more hug and to hear his voice.
I probably got my love of hand written letters from this letter from my dad on my Search Retreat:
As you know by now, mom and I were asked to write a “love letter” to you – well sort of. I tried to talk them into letting me come along on your “Search Weekend” and publicly display my affection for you on stage! I pictured the two of us in front of everyone and I’d hug you tight and tell you how much I love you and how very proud I am of My Daughter! Well as you’ve already guessed, they wouldn’t hear of it.
It is very easy to be proud of a daughter who truly knows right from wrong and doesn’t try to justify a wrong because it’s the “in” thing to do. Doing the right thing makes you feel good, inside and out. I think you’ve learned this lesson already in your young life and the whole family is proud of you.
Your love for the poor and underprivileged is a quality that is outstanding in God’s eyes and will be rewarded to you in Heaven.
Stephanie, with your attitude and love for God and all of His people, you will never feel lonely and your rewards will be tenfold.
It is with great feeling that I can say “Stephanie is my daughter and I love her” and I know our Father in Heaven feels the same way.
Love you always,
It feels like just yesterday that Paul left this world. But it also seems like ages ago. I was a different person, not yet and adult, unsure of who I was to become. I wonder if I would be the same person I am today if he’d lived another 5 years, or 10. I wish I’d said “I love you” and “thank you” more often. If I’ve learned anything from his passing, it was that I should take any opportunity to say I love you to my family and friends. I need to tell people how much I appreciate them and why. I also need to have fun and love life, the way that my dad taught me. In the picture above, my dad is posing in the kaftan that my mom made for him from scratch. He loved that thing. It was taken 1978.