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.

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