COMMENTARY: This Is My Dad, Sam Burke”

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 a few 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 3

  1. It is written, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, that he will reap. Both the father and the daughter reaped what they sowed. The father what he deposited in his daughter and the society. And the daughter, what she showed in the staff of the convalescence home.

  2. When I read this I was reminded of my mom who is 1500 miles away in a nursing facility, and who I only get to see once or twice a year because of the distance and cost. I wish I was closer so I could do what the daughter in the article did. I did the next best thing and drafted a letter with pictures embedded that told the staff about my mom as a young woman, a career person and all the things she was involved in and how she was always interested in new things and seeing far away places(which she did). As the staff provides for her needs 24/7 it is helpful for them to remember that she is someone’s mom and grandmother who is a really neat person that she had and still has a phenomenal impact on her two sons,their families and the next generation of the family.

  3. I am so moved by Ann’s story and it brings up my experience when my dear dad died. My dad was sick for a week when he died and we knew he was going. So, being his blue eye girl and eldest of his 9 children I hoovered over him making sure he was comfortable. The evening daddy died we called the undertakers after mom and her friends washed the body.
    This was our first death experience as a family and I never knew the undertakers use a stretcher with a zip to place the body in to take it to the mortgery.

    Lo and behold, they came with their stretcher. When I saw it somehow I just flipped and strongly questioned them. “Do you think that you are going to put my dad in that bag?” “No, way”. And I gently asked them to leave our house. I really felt bad afterwards because I lashed out. But my point was: I love and honor my dad so much and there was no way that they was going to put his body into a bag.
    They came back with a beautiful hearse and a very smart mock coffin. “So yes, now you may take my dad” They gently handled his body with care and respect.
    Days later I went to the mortgery and found that they place my daddy’s body in a separate, decorated private room waiting for burial. I just felt like going to do my own goodbye to him and so did my other siblings without us knowing we were all there at different times.
    I realised how much I love him that I would go to that extreme to even honor him in death.

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