A Cannon Beach man has received a letter from his dying father, 36-years after he wrote it to him and his sister and recently discovered hidden in the back of a dresser.
An Idaho woman sent Jon Rahl the letter and other mementos that belonged to his father, Richard Rahl, including his old Sears credit card.
“It has my dad's name on it,” said Rahl, a detail that helped reunite him with the items.
Chief among those treasures is the letter, written on yellow notebook paper and dated November 1980. It's addressed to Jon and his sister Gretchen Hroma, who now lives in Boise. They were age four and two respectively at the time.
Richard Rahl wrote it as he lay dying of lymphoma.
“Since it looks like I'll be dying soon, and since neither of you will be able to remember me when you're older, I wanted to write you this letter to tell you how much I love you both . . . I'd like you always to remember that I love you and I'm sorry I won't always be there when you need me.”
But Richard Rahl's last days turned into months. Then years. In 1986, he celebrated remission with a family trip to Disneyland. He had beaten cancer.
"He didn't pass away from this, he made it through, he got to watch us grow up,” said Jon Rahl.
There would be weddings to attend. Grandchildren to hold. Life to live.
“I never knew until reading this that he thought he was going to die,” said Rahl.
The letter came to him a few months ago, after both his parents passed away, his father at age 70. Their belongings were sold at auction in Idaho Falls where Rahl grew up.
Melissa Stark wound up with the dresser and the letter.
“It was taped behind the top drawer,” said Stark, by phone.
Stark used the first names on the letter and the last name on the Sears card to find Rahl, then sent him a message on Facebook.
“It was just so touching,” said Stark. “The envelope was sealed so I knew that whoever had written the letter, something like that would mean a lot to me.”
“I'm forever grateful to her,” said Jon Rahl.
Had his family discovered the letter on their own, Rahl said it would have had an impact, but not as special.
“The fact that the letter kind of stayed in there, to get that hug from Heaven as I’ve come to refer to it, it made it that much more special.”
A father's final words and wisdom, delivered right on time.
“Try always to be honest and value true friendship. If you behave like you like and respect yourself, then the people whose respect and friendship you desire will come naturally. With all my love, Dad.”
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