Don’s Writing Mission
By Catherine Frink
Life delivers hardship to the sweetest people, doesn’t it? This happened to my beloved brother when ALS consumed him.
ALS is a disease that prohibits signals from reaching the body; all movement stops, except that the person can blink their eyes. However, their mind is absolutely clear, so they are aware of it all.
I lived 2,500 miles away when I heard that this was Don’s horrifying fate. I desperately prayed to ease my brother’s progressively sad days. The answer came to send him daily letters on pretty paper, allowing him to share my life without writing back. I purchased a beautiful hardcover journal with lines and lovely drawings, adding scissors and stamped envelopes, and tucked them into my car to write while on the move.
At the same time, my brother’s first love, Pat, whom I knew and loved, also found out Don had ALS. She received the same idea: to send him a letter every day. Pat sent memories from their relationship, clinical trial information, and natural supplements. Don wrote back to her through hospice volunteers who came to help. We were not aware we were both writing him at the same time.
Don eventually died, and a few weeks later I received a letter from Pat, which told me how Don had come to Pat, telling her that our writing to him gave him a wonderful quality of life for his last horrific years. He confessed that before we started writing to him, he had spent his days contemplating how to commit suicide.
He asked if Pat would contact me and if we would make it our life’s mission to tell this story of writing daily so that fellow ALS sufferers – or anyone with an isolating, debilitating disease – would receive the same love he had.
Don said because of our writing, he knew we loved him and he loved us. He was included and had something special to look forward to every day.
Pretty paper, envelopes, a book of stamps and willingness is all it takes to change horror into heartfelt quality of life, according to Don. Simple, loving, kind: a mission anyone can do.
Catherine Frink loves to dance and paint, and her joy is to spread Don’s Writing Mission through telling the story to every person who will listen. She does bunches of push-ups when she feels like it, and once in a while, she’ll even do up to 115 without stopping.