Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fan mail of the best kind

Our Web site has generated much thought-provoking dialog. This was one of the recent letters we received and wanted to share:

Hi Mr. Findley & Mrs. Findley,

First I am really sorry that I haven't talked to you guys in so long. It's been a busy several months but that is no excuse for not talking to you guys. Thank you for my birthday card, I got it on my birthday and it meant a lot to me that you guys sent it. I also recieved another great gift. A football that belonged to Jake had been sitting in the ball bin at Sugar Grove for several years until Mine and Jake's 4th grade teacher Mrs. Diaz discovered it. She sent it to me along with a very kind note and I recieved it as a birthday gift. It is my favorite birthday present I have ever recieved. Patrick immediatley remembered the football and that we did use it in some of our many backyard football games. It now sits on my desk next to Jake's North Carolina hat and is the only physical memory of those great memories of playing football with Jake and Travis.

This football season has been a good one and I wish I'd have e-mailed you a schedule. I could not get number 89 as my varsity number as Andrew Gudeman already had the number. I ended up with number 21 for varsity and still got to wear 89 for JV games. I have also started my own tradition of writing their names on my wrist tape before every Varsity and JV game (The refs won't let me wear my wristband). I also have a picture of them in my locker. Coach Moore (head coach) knows why I am playing and has told me how great that is and told me that I was a "great man" for playing football for my friends who can no longer do so. I saw some good action through most of the season making tackles here and there, but two games stood out. Against Terre Haute South, I played almost half the game and in the fourth quarter I made my first interception. As soon as I hit the ground, I thought about Jake and Travis and knew that they were cheering along with the parents and my teammates in heaven. In our final game against Warren Central, I started and played most of the game. Even though we lost and I didn't play the greatest game, it was a tribute to my hard work and my cause that I started. We are playing Floyd Central in Regionals on Friday at home and hopefully we can win another State Championship.

I don't know if you have heard the story of Tyler Genneken, so I will give it to you in short. He was a young man who was diagnosed with leukemia 3 years ago when he was in 5th grade. Aggresive chemotherapy put it into remission, but this past year the cancer returned. After battling for 3 years, he died on Thursday night. He was an 8th grader at Central and played football. I did not know Tyler but followed his story after I heard of his worsening condition. I prayed for him and his family and his friends every day and every time I lead the prayer after football practice. On Tuesday night after practice, when there was no more hope, I prayed that God take him home and end his suffering. The next night, shortly after a friend of mine's church group prayed for him, he died. To me, that shows how merciful God is and how he has his hand in things. I know many of his friends through Patrick's various sports teams, and have told Mrs. Thacker that I am willing to help in any way. Coach Moore called me yesterday to tell me that he wanted me to call three or four friends to get together and go to Tyler's funeral and hand out programs at the door. I appreciated it very much that he thought enough of me to call me, not a star on the team, but me to do this. Needless to say I attended the funeral yesterday and the Celebration of Life today. It has reminded me of nearly three years ago when I went through the same thing Tyler's friends are going through. While the circumstances are very different, it is still much the same in that a child has died too young. It touches me much more than someone else my age because I know what his friends are going through and it deeply saddens me to see others go through it.

I still miss Jake and Travis so much. I think about them all the time, at school, during football, when I lay in bed at night and especially when I am alone and I know that time would be spent with my best friend and another friend who happened to be his little brother. I still wear my Jake and Travis wristband every day (I'm glad I bought so many, I think I'm on #6 or 7) and occaisonaly wear my Arms of Life T-shirt, which is faded from so much wearing and pray for you guys every night. Often times, those same thoughts, Why them?, Why me?, I wish I could have them back? come back into my head. But it is selfish to want them back because they are in such a great place right now, too great for us to understand until we reach that glorious day when God calls us home.

Again, I'm so sorry I haven't contacted you guys in so long. I would absoulutly love it if we get get together in the future, however it would most likely have to be after football, which hopefully ends on November 30 (championship game). I look forward to seeing you guys soon.

See Ya,
Matt Norris


  1. And here is another note and Dad's story!

    Mark, I hope this e-mail message finds it way to you.

    We briefly met at the Choice's annual conference, where you were extremely kind enough to provide me with a copy of this publication, following the presentation on the annual award named for my daughter Jessica, who was killed in what became a triple fatality accident, last February. My daughter and her close friend, Julie Sennott, died at the accident scene.
    Her fiance and my son-in law, who were both on the passenger side of the vehicle were able to walk away.
    Then unbelievably, Michael Dunlap, the fiance, died approximately six weeks later from a traveling blood clot as a result of the accident, that stopped his heart.

    All three were social workers in the Lafayette area. Needless to say, the impact on the Lafayette community was enormous.

    I feel so privileged and honored that my daughter's memory was part of the annual meeting, and will continue as an award to a deserving recipient.

    If I had been killed at the age of 29, or even next year when I'll be 59, there won't be any honoring ceremonies.
    I'm not as important or contributing as my daughter was.

    I finished reading your story and the others, this past week on the plane rides to and from Phoenix to visit my son over Christmas.
    It was tough to read, particularly over the holidays. I'm also trying to finish The Shack, which has similar tremendous sadness.

    As I suspected, the stories were gut wrenching, and difficult for me to complete.
    I'm also from the north side of Indianapolis, and graduated from Ball State. I'm even acquainted with Marsha Hutchinson, who is friends with one of my older brothers.

    Your story was particularly inspiring to continue the devoted love for your son and your grandchildren that survived him.

    I'm not sure I understand, "Getting it," completely.
    I do share many of the same thoughts that were expressed:
    - I don't like going to my daughter's gave site.
    - I feel like I have a permanent injury, but it's emotional, rather than physical.
    - I don't think about my daughter 24/7, but do think about her morning, noon and night. In fact sometime I feel a little guilty about not thinking about her enough. For that reason, I don't listen to the car radio as much in order to spend some down time, thinking about her.
    - I'm more passive about things. The worst that could possibly happen, has.
    - My immediate family (wife and son) became even closer, which has also expanded to my older brothers.

    I almost feel I'm moving on with my life more quickly than I should, since it hasn't even been a year yet.

    Perhaps someday if I'm ever in Indianapolis on a Tuesday morning, I can visit your group.
    In the meantime, I'm going to pass these stories onto the other two Dads that lost their daughter and son in the same accident.

    Thanks so sincerely for reaching out to me, by sharing this publication.


  2. Dear Adolph,

    Yesterday morning, a member of the choir in the UM Church I serve in
    Westfield NJ handed me a copy of "Tuesday Mornings with the Dads".
    She has heard about the death of our daughter, Danielle, who was
    killed in a pedestrian accident back in December of 1996, but had
    never met her... as have none of the other folks here. She was
    eager to present me with a copy of the book, which I believe she
    bought at her daughter's church St. Luke's in Indianapolis.

    I just finished reading your entry about your beloved Bonnie. I am
    so sorry for your loss and your retelling of some of the details of
    your painful journey to the hospital surfaced powerful memories and
    emotions in me.

    I have never been a part of a care-giving group like the Tuesday
    Morning Dad's group, I read with great interest of some of the change
    that took place inside of you as you met with your friends... my
    sense being that there was a place of hope for those who gathered.

    Though I have worked to reconstruct meaning in my life since
    Danielle's death, it has never happened as part of grief group such
    as Tuesday Mornings...

    I share two thoughts: 1. being a bit envious of the apparent hope
    that the group brought to you and the others... and 2. All too
    often my loss of Danielle leaves me with a feeling emptiness that I do
    not ever expect to be filled ... I know that is quite normal in the
    scheme of loss... and surely long, after 13+ years, to move to some
    new place.

    Thank you for telling the story of your daughter's accident, the pain
    of her death, and the ways you have coped.

    Sincerely yours ... bound together in the mystery of God's love and
    the Resurrection...

    Ed Carll

    Rev. Ed Carll Pastor First UMC Westfield NJ

  3. Saturday, I received a note that I would like to share with the group.

    The following note came from a women that was our pharmacist and had attended Marc's memorial service. She had purchased a copy of our book when it first came out. She was pregnant with her 4th child at that time and has elected to stay at home until they are all in school.


    You may not recognize my name. I was a pharmacist at Marsh at 116th and Allisonville Rd. I wanted to write you a note and let you know I shared your book with my uncle. My 26 year old cousin took her life 8 months ago. I sent my uncle "Tuesday Mornings with the Dads." He is in a grief group with all women (not by choice). He said it was nice to have a Dad's perspective to relate to. I am enclosing a note he wrote to me. I appreciate you and the other Dads sharing your stories to help others, like my uncle. You and Allyson are in my thoughts.


    Here is Amy's uncle's note:


    Thank you for sending me this book. I think this book helped me more than any other book I have read since Emily's death. I really related to all of the Dads and what they went thru.

    I also want to thank you for all the kind messages you have been sending Kayla. It means the world to her. Things have been getting better slowly for both of us.

    Please also thank your customer who shared his story in the book. Let him know how much it helped me.


    Uncle Paul

    This is exactly why I chose to add my story to this book. I'm very glad that we undertook this project and very pleased with the results and comments, like this, that we have received.