The sympathy cards have slowed to a trickle. In the beginning it was a deluge.
Many of the cards said things like this:
Your dad was an amazing man, and I consider myself very lucky to have worked with him.
What a class act!
Don was a wonderful person: friendly, compassionate, smart and extremely generous…
I felt privileged to know him.
Here’s a sampling from his church:
Don and Elinor were two of the first people I met at church and I’ll never forget how welcome they made me feel.
His church will miss him much. I think he held at least every position twice and always took on the most challenging parts.
And a few of the many from the hospital:
He was one of the “Old Guard” at Bassett and embodied all of the wonderful good things of a medical career.
He was the one who recruited me to Cooperstown. He looked after me at work and worked so hard to make sure that our department ran smoothly. I’ll always remember how much he cared about the patients and making my early years there successful.
The more specific people were in what they wrote about my father, the more it touched me. For example, this story made me laugh because it captured his frugality:
Many years ago he asked me (chairman of building and grounds) to help him dig a trench across the driveway from the church house to the manse. If we put in the wires to connect a new manse computer to the one in the secretary office ourselves, we could save a lot of money. Although he was much older than I was, he outworked me with his pick and shovel!
After I graduated from high school I learned that my father had followed each one of his little league players all the way through graduation and had given each one a baseball necktie as a graduation gift. Apparently, he continued that baseball-themed gift-giving pattern into his later years as this person mentioned:
Our son loved baseball and Don often gave him baseball-accented gifts.
The words and stories people shared became a salve for my grieving heart. I read stories of him making housecalls, of mentoring, of swapping “sappy stories,” of his Red Sox fanaticism, of his sweet tooth.
I also received cards from people who had never met my father but who only knew him through me. People who read this blog but that I never met in person. People I met at Hutchmoot or on other travels. Even people here in Cooperstown who know me through my church or my involvement with the swim team, but never met my father. I was so grateful. I felt so loved.
Two cards that especially touched me were from people who had also recently suffered loss:
Deepest sympathies and equally deep gratitude for all the love and care you shared with your dad. I know firsthand that is a gift that goes both ways and lives in memory always. (from another caregiver whose father had recently died)
We have a wonderful hope of resurrection, but the grief is still so real right now. (from a grieving spouse)
Blessed are those who understand for God will give them words to ease another’s pain.