Story shared by Jackie Frank
My mother died in the summer of 2004. My father was devastated and came to live with me and my family. My father was 83 at the time. He had been a teacher and a Superintendent at the W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind before he retired. Dad was so lonely with Mom gone that I asked if he would be interested in becoming a Strong Start® Volunteer at Westvale. He took the training and came in once a week for the entire school year 2004-05. He put so much into his “lesson preparation” each week that he always went to his desk for about an hour the night before. He proudly came to the volunteer breakfast in June. His cancer progressed over that summer and he was unable to continue and failed rapidly until his death. But the cute part of the story is that one of his students; a little girl named Jordyn gave him a small angel medal that had “Always with You” written on the back. Dad cherished that little trinket and I could always tell if he had misplaced it because he would be in a bad mood until he found it.
In going through his possessions, I have discarded many items that probably had a monetary value, but I still have the Angel – it reminds me of how much being “of service” can contribute to feelings of health and self-worth. I am convinced that we would have lost Dad earlier if it wasn’t for his sense that he was making a contribution.