The Christmas decorations are finally all taken down and put away in the garage. The bags and bags of donation items in the garage are finally sorted and organized for donation. My car is filled with stuff ready to drop off and will be filled again once those donations are done. I found myself spending some time sifting through a box of my daddy’s stuff that made me smile and at times weep a little bit.
What I find amazing is that my dad saved so many great things over the years. Important papers, of course. But letters, lots of letters, that pointed to the friendships he held dear and the impact that he had on so many lives. There were so many letters that expressed appreciation to him for various things. For prayers, for counseling, for sermons that especially touched someone. There was even an anonymous letter from a couple at a church where he was having a particularly hard time that encouraged him and told him how much they appreciated him. Why it was anonymous I will never know.
Then I found this piece written by him. Scribbled on the back of a note from Ohio Northern University that he received in 1988. He was always good at recycling, especially paper. The handwriting is small and shaky but legible and as I read it, I realized what a cruel and debilitating disease he had been diagnosed with. At the time he was the director at the Bethesda Learning Center in Bethesda, Ohio. He loved that job and I think he was good at it. But this scribbled piece was a draft of his resignation letter.
His words describe the beginning symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that prevented him from continuing his work and forced him to take disability far too young. His death at 66 was a direct result of that horrific disease. These words, especially, struck me.
“As you may. know I have an hereditary condition of the nervous system which is unpredictable. For example, during Thanksgiving week, I had four days that seemed about normal, but then it only lasted four days. The degeneration may change erratically. It is. not painful, only frustrating and stressful.”
Those words pierced my heart because I DO remember how frustrated he became when his words were not understood. I always felt like he was trapped in a failing body but his mind was still right there –he just could not get the right words out to express what he wanted.
I guess as I get older and Chris and I talk about our future plans it is only natural that I think about the health of my parents and how that might eventually play into my own life. With Parkinson’s and dementia in the family there might be a chance that that comes into play in my own life. Without being morbid or pessimistic, I need to be prepared for that, I guess.
But what pride I felt when I read those shakily written words from my daddy. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult that letter was to write and to read the draft that was really well thought out and composed made me realize, once again, what a special man he was and how grateful I am that he took the time to save some of those great words from both himself and others who loved him. What a blessing.
Have you ever found a letter or words from a loved one that made you feel all the emotions? I would love to hear if you are sentimental like I am so leave me a comment and Comment for a Cause for The Family Place.