This Is My Dad, Sam Burke 729.1

Ann’s father, Sam Burke, was in the last stages of cancer, and his needs had gone beyond what she could provide at home. She was distraught at the thought of placing him in a convalescent home.

The check-in process confirmed her worst fears. Administrators, nurses, and doctors who seemed bothered, bored, or burned out quickly transformed Sam Burke into just another patient.

Driving home with tears in her eyes, she remembered when she told her dad that she hated her dorm during her first year of college. “Never accept the unacceptable,” he had told her. “There’s nothing you can’t make better if you put your mind to it.”

Determined to make his last days better, Ann got the names of every person at the convalescent home who might work with her father and delivered a personally addressed envelope to each of them. It contained a note and pictures of her dad getting married, posing with his children, and in military uniform. The note said, “This is my dad, Sam Burke. A good and proud man who fought for his country and worked hard for his family. I know you will treat him with kindness and dignity. I am very grateful.”

During her next few visits, she made sure to introduce her father to everyone: “This is my dad, Sam Burke.” Soon, the looks of suspicion disappeared, and the staff returned her smiles and personally greeted Sam. Each time they did, Sam squeezed Ann’s hand.

When he died months later, Ann received a card signed by the entire staff: “Thanks for entrusting us with your dad, Sam, and for reminding us why we do what we do. He must have been a great father because you sure are a great daughter.”

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 8

  1. please do not ever give up what you are doing. i look forward to your commentary every day, i also feel a little bit better a person for it,you inspire me to love,laugh,help others, care,and tell everybody about you. thank you for sharing your wisdom with those who are fortunate enough to listen sincerely, Evan

  2. This post made me think of my mom. She had to go to a convalescent home for a couple weeks after heart surgery and the first one we got into was not acceptable. While awaiting the duty nurse, I put my mom back in the car and checked her out. A couple days later, I got her into a much better place close to her home and two weeks later, she was out.
    Later, after being discharged all too quickly from the hospital after what was surely a stroke (shouldn’t have been discharged at all, IMO), she had to go into a nursing home again. But this time it was a one way trip. I don’t know how aware she was but she knew me and knew I’d take care of her. I made the 80 mile drive every day for the month she was there to see her. Also to let the people there know that someone was watching and could show up at any time since I varied the time of my visits. It made a difference. I’m not subtle enough to write a letter like the original story here so I did what I knew. Pleasant to all until crossed and ever watchful, I am my family’s protector.

  3. Thank you. You give hope to each of us that want to do good and wish for better lives for everyone, by each of us being the best person we can be, and treating one another with respect & dignity.
    Thank you for what you do. You are a hero. =)

  4. I saw this posted here once before and it struck me that I could use it some day and I did. My aunt was a retired Navy nurse – Veteran of World War II, Korea and VietNam. She was almost 99 and when in the hospital she seemed to revert to the past, especially war times. She was in and out of the hospital several times in the past two years. Each time I would write her story on the white board in her room and made it a point to talk to all the staff about her. She was in on Veteran’s Day 2010 and the staff brought her a flag and specially decorated cup cakes. I really beleive telling her story made a difference.

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