A Second Chance
by Will Beckman
This story begins at a summer camp outside Brandon, Vermont. This was my first summer working back east during my high school years. To see the country, I had driven my Dodge Demon throughout the east coast and was now contently working at Twin Lake Camp. Life was good.
About halfway through the summer I get a call from my mother telling me that my grandfather – Roy Ambrister was dying and probably wouldn’t make it another week. Shock set in – “Pop” aka Roy Ambrister wasn’t just my grandfather – He was my everything. Pop was the man that introduced me to Rotary. Taking me as a child to his Pauls Valley Rotary Meetings where he had previously served as its President. Pop taught me to play gin rummy – he had raced me while swimming and taken me to his cabin frequently throughout all my youth. Now my Pop was dying, and I wasn’t near to express my feelings. I had never told him that I loved him. I asked my parents if I could fly back – but, it was too expensive, and no one knew how much longer Pop might live.
I suddenly realized that I had to express my love and thoughts of appreciation to my Pop – who was the most important person in my life. So, with pen in hand I sat down and wrote a 6-7-page letter! I poured out my heart telling him how much he meant to me and how he influenced my life. I placed stamps on my letter and mailed it immediately.
I called my mother the next day to tell her about the letter; and to be on the lookout. He continued to get worse. I called the next day and still no letter had arrived. I prayed that my letter would arrive in time.
Finally, about a week after I had written my letter – it arrived. But, Pop was dropping in and out of conscience and no one thought he could understand anything. My mother and my Aunt were spending their last times with their father – and then they decide to start reading my letter to him – even while he was out of it. God has a funny way of teaching us lessons doesn’t he. Here is the most important person in my life dying and being read my very personal letter to him by my mother and my aunt. When the letter arrived, the doctor told everyone death was at most 24 hours away. Suddenly, Pop would wake up and ask to hear my letter again, and again, and again. My Aunt reminded me that he must have heard my letter a hundred times. A week later Roy Ambrister (my Pop) walked out of the hospital. His will to live outweighed death.
It was a blessing that I was given the chance to expressing my feelings. Pop lived an additional two years past that summer. My letter with his bible were at his bedside until the day he died. Second chances don’t come often – but when they do recognize them and capitalize on your opportunity. Tell your loved ones how you feel – don’t miss the opportunity – like I almost did!
Will, a beautiful story and most important lesson in expressing your thoughts to a loved one. The next day or time may never arrive. My grandparents all died before I was 10 years old. The void was filled by aunts and uncles and cousins.
I had a similar experience with a letter that I had written to one of my favorite teachers. Mrs. Bennett was actually my teacher for both the 5th and 6th grades, but she had a very definite affect on me for the rest of my life. I had written her a letter several years before she passed away, and it was very much like the one that you describe. I let her know, in no uncertain terms, what she had meant to me in my life, and I felt good about doing so. However, I had no idea how much my letter had meant to her until I went to see her a couple of years later, just a few weeks before she passed away. Her son Mike was there with her, and after I had visited with her for a while, he took me aside and told me that she always kept my letter by her bed so that she could have him read it to her at least once a day for the entire time that she was bedridden. That had started several months prior to the time that I found out she was sick, which was when I went to visit her. I have no idea whether or not my letter had helped extend her life, but I have no doubt that it made her final days a bit happier.
Thank you, Will Beckman, for sharing such a touching and meaningful memory.