The Missing Piece

Kathy and I had been pen pals for over a year. I always enjoyed receiving her letters – she could write about school, her family, and her friends in such a special way that what others would have considered boring held my unwavering interest.

Recently, we have tried to make our letters more fun. Kathy had started the game by beginning her letter at the top of the page and writing around the page so that I had to keep turning the page to the left to read it. I replied with a letter that snaked back and forth so that she had to keep turning the letter upside down to read it. The challenge was on.

And then I saw it. I knew this would be the perfect stationery to use to write my next letter. It was only five inches wide but was a yard long. On one side were lines for writing the letter. On the other side was a picture of a giraffe. But what made the picture special was that it had lines on the picture so that after writing, you cut along the lines and created a jigsaw puzzle that had to be put together so the recipient could read the letter. I had to purchase this.

I had a lot to share with Kathy – so my letter was three pages long. I then put all three pages together so that the pieces were cut exactly the same. With absolute joy, I mixed the pieces together and carefully placed them in the addressed envelope – spreading the pieces out to get an even distribution and placed two stamps on it to ensure it would be delivered. I couldn’t help but giggle as I placed it in the mailbox.

It took two weeks to get a reply – I was getting scared thinking that maybe she was upset. So, I tore into the envelope. Inside was a short note.

“Still working on putting the letter together. Will write when done. You win so please don’t do this again. Love, Kathy.”

“PS – You are lucky that I didn’t find this first .”

With that, I thought to myself, “I guess I should mail her the missing piece.”


Len Bernat
Len Bernat
LEN is a leader groomed by 20 years of molding and shaping by some of the finest leaders in the United States Marine Corps. Their guidance helped Len realize his full potential as he moved from an enlisted Marine to becoming an Officer of Marines. Len became known for being the leader who could turn any lackluster organization into a strong, functional unit. Upon his retirement, Len worked in several positions before finally starting a second career in governmental procurement. His experience and leadership skills enabled him to be recognized as the 2011 Governmental Procurement Officer of the Year for the Governmental Procurement Association of Georgia and opened doors for him to teach at many of the association’s conferences. Len was also called to the ministry and was ordained at Ashford Memorial Methodist Church in November of 1999. Today, Len is the Pastor of Maxeys Christian Church in Maxeys, Georgia. Len has been married to his wife, Hazel, for 36 years and they have three daughters, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Grab your copy of Len's new Book – Leadership Matters | Advice From A Career USMC Officer. Using his life experiences as examples, Len takes the eleven principles of leadership and the fourteen traits every leader should possess—which he learned during twenty years in the Marine Corps—and teaches the reader how he was molded and shaped by some of the best leaders the Corps had to offer.

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  1. Funny story. In these times a humorous note is appropriate.
    On the other hand, the sense of humor is defined as the art of using a note of careful irony and wit in the most gray and angular moments. In addition, it is almost always an index of intelligence. The art of those who manage to snatch a laugh of taste, making us aware of a less rigid reality.
    Thank you for suggesting this story to us.

    • Valerie – It warmed my heart to know I put a smile on your face with my story. Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it.