I completed the hardest writing task of my life on Saturday. After my dad asked me on Friday morning to help him write thank you notes, I went out and bought the cards, and then all through the afternoon, I tried to find a moment when he seemed energetic and coherent enough to start writing them. It wasn’t until Saturday morning, though, right before I planned to leave, that we had our first opportunity. He seemed ready, but I tried asking him probably 50 different ways what he wanted to say, and he was silent each time. But his face said volumes, and so I gently suggested that I write the notes from my perspective, sitting at his bedside, and let the recipients know what I think he’s trying to tell them. He liked that idea, so I came up with a basic formula and ran it by him, and got a teary-eyed nod of approval.

I tweaked and customized it for different recipients, but the basic formula went like this:

Dear (recipient)

Yesterday morning, my father asked me to help him write a thank you note to you.

This morning, I sat down with him to transcribe his message, and that proved a harder task than imagined. I am writing to you from his bedside, and what I see in his face as he struggles to find the words is gratitude. What he seems to want to say is thank you for everything – your support, your kindness, your prayers, and most of all, your love.

I hope you know the importance you’ve had in my father’s life, and how much he appreciates you. And for that, our whole family appreciates you, too.

(signed by me and by my dad)

I hope it does the job.

Hardest writing assignment of my life

14 thoughts on “Hardest writing assignment of my life

  • August 30, 2005 at 12:35 pm
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    It’ll do the job. 🙂

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  • August 30, 2005 at 12:52 pm
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    What a kindness to your father and to those that he’s thanking. Your family is fortunate to have you there.

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  • August 30, 2005 at 1:01 pm
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    That is something so special I hardly can find words. That’s wonderful, Kate, and I’m sure it’ll do the job. More than do the job.

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  • August 30, 2005 at 1:03 pm
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    I can’t even imagine how wonderful it would be to get a note like that. I can imagine, though, how hard something like that would have been to write, and I’m deeply impressed with you right now.

    -J

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  • August 30, 2005 at 1:14 pm
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    *nodnod*. Well said.

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  • August 30, 2005 at 1:32 pm
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    Very well said. I’m sure it will mean a lot to the recipients.

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  • August 30, 2005 at 2:18 pm
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    *sneef*

    So much admiration, for you and for your dad.

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  • August 30, 2005 at 2:34 pm
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    That’s a wonderful, caring thing to do. And incredibly hard.

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  • August 30, 2005 at 4:10 pm
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    Wow, Kate.

    Thinking of you and yours.

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  • August 30, 2005 at 4:26 pm
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    Thank you. I did think, as I was hand-writing each of the cards, how hard I would be crying if I were to receive a card like this from someone I cared about, and how I would treasure knowing that he was thinking of me in the last weeks of his life.

    Incidentally, I asked my dad if he wanted me to help him write something specifically for my mom, and he nodded and teared up, but I think that’s going to be impossibly hard. We couldn’t even begin to write anything like that last Saturday, so I’m going to try to get to that on Friday while my mom’s at work, if he’s up to it. And then that will no doubt become the hardest writing assignment of my life.

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  • August 30, 2005 at 4:28 pm
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    Thank you. I’m glad it comes across well. It was one of the most emotionally draining things I’ve ever sat down to do, but I felt genuinely privileged to have the opportunity to help give voice to his gratitude.

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  • August 30, 2005 at 6:25 pm
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    What a difficult task. You are such an amazingly caring person and I admire you for this.

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  • August 30, 2005 at 8:47 pm
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    Kate, this an amazing thing to do for a loved one who’s dying. I would be so honored to receive such a letter. You and your dad are wonderful to think of it.

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  • August 31, 2005 at 1:16 pm
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    I now know where you get your loving big heart from.

    Reply

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