David Kelley handed this birthday card to my wife on her twelfth birthday. He had recently returned home from a long stay at the hospital and upon arriving penned the following letter to Kathy and their mother full of hope that he was getting better:
. . . Now you all know that for the past few weeks I have been in the hospital with a very bad germ. Recently I came home to take care of myself. And since I have to take care of myself what we need is cooperation.
Now Kathy, your job will be to help Mom as much as possible. Such as keeping your room clean, cleaning up the bathroom occasionally and helping Mom with the dishes at night. I say this because it takes a lot less time to do the dishes if two does it than one. You probably think that’s a lot for you and maybe it is but if you don’t help Mom she will get all tired and worn out. Then she won’t do the therapy right and I won’t get the frogs up which means I will get an infection. Also she might forget an important dose of medicine and then there won’t be anything to fight back against the germs inside me and I’ll get sick and have to go in the hospital and Granny will have to come for another month and you’ll go back to living the way you have for the past month. Now which would you rather do? Help Mom a little each day or have Gran come down for another month while I’m in the hospital. I think you’ll agree you’ll be much better off with helping Mom.
Now Mom, your job is to keep me well. Make sure I get my medicine on time and therapy and masks done when they’re supposed to be done.
And last of all my job is to keep rested and not over do it and before you know it I’ll be good as new and I can start helping. . .
There was no happy ending to this story because the medicines and therapy available then were not very effective. Kathy helped her mom throughout her brother’s illness and hadn’t really needed any encouragement to do so from David. She did it because she loved him and that devotion and affection helped mold her into the caring and faith-filled person she is today.
As of this morning I will have presented my wife with thirty-one birthday cards, none as special as the one she received in 1972 from a brother who loved her dearly.