There was a very special place in my Dad's heart for little girls. He didn't mind big girls too much either—but a dainty little girl in the presence of my dad took center stage. The day I brought our only daughter home from the hospital and placed her in his arms, I thought he would simply melt. She bore a striking resemblance to a little Indian papoose with her dark pink skin tone and long shiny black hair that simply defied gravity. She was irresistible.
And as she grew, her close relationship to her Grandpa grew as well. I would often be reminded of my childhood days, as I watched him take her onto his lap and tell her how very special she was.
In 1984, Dad decided to build a desk for Dawn Angel. The design was a slant top William and Mary set on large bun feet. The brass handmade drawer pulls were dewdrop shape, traditional of that period. He ordered the cherry wood and soon after its arrival began building the desk, working over the next few months day and night. When we would come for a visit, I would enter through his shop, to check on the progress, "...Ooh and. ...Ahh!" a bit. He would often douse the wood with thinner as I looked on so I could picture the finished grain.
As was his custom, the desk had to have a secret compartment; and it does, a very secret drawer. I believe it is the most ingenious secret compartment he ever designed. When the piece was completed, Bruce hand carved "Dawn Angel Walsh" in elegant script across the front of the secret drawer and it was delivered to our home on her fifth birthday, December 8, 1984. What a memorable moment for all of us!
Over the years, every time Dad came to visit, he would carefully look the desk over and comment on how the cherry was "a bit darker."
"It will mellow—grow richer in time!" he would always remind me.
And he was right—as it sits in our home today, two decades later, it has surely mellowed and grown richer in time.
Dawn may very well hide something in her secret drawer someday—something quite valuable to her perhaps; but to this day the real treasure hidden there is the letter her Grandpa wrote to her on the completion of the desk. It remains in the secret drawer to this day.
The letter is written on stationary with his Mr. Sawdust letterhead.
And it reads:
December 8, 1984
To my granddaughter, Dawn Angel Walsh
Schooley's Mountain, NJ.
My dearest Dawn:
This is your fifth birthday.
I've made this desk for you because I love you more than I can say. Someday, God willing, you will grow up to be a fine and gracious lady like your mother. And you will come to know the great love with which this desk is filled.
I want you to keep this letter in this secret drawer.
There will come quiet times when you'll be reading this again—and I can be with you. There will also come those times when things aren't going so well for you—and I want you to remember what I am about to tell you:
I expect you to keep all kinds of happy things in this drawer. You can put them in here and they will last FOREVER. But this is also a very special drawer—and I'll tell you why: Once in a while, something will make you unhappy—maybe very unhappy. And I want you to know what to do:
Whatever this thing is that makes you unhappy, just put it into this special secret drawer with all the nice, happy things—and, believe me, it will disappear into thin air!
BUT I must tell you about the very special way it works:
First, you have to pray to Jesus. Then you must tell Him all about this unhappy thing that's bothering you—and that you need some Special Help. Then make very certain he knows exactly where you're putting it. And the next time you open this special drawer, it will be GONE!
Happy birthday, my precious one. Forever!
Grandpa Kunkel (age 63)
(He should have enclosed a few tissues!