November 5, 1998
I am writing this on behalf of my father, Richard Jeffrey, better known as Jeff. Back in 1981 he was in a car accident, broad sided by a drunk driver. I don’t remember the path that led him to you… or you to him, but you two found each other. He met with a group of head injured adults… your pioneer group they dubbed themselves. You of course were at the helm, letting them talk, cry, feel each other’s misery, and yes, each other’s joy. I know how much my father looked forward to those meetings… I was there for one semester of college. You let me sit in on the meetings, watching, learning, and to my father’s amazement, listening. It was apparent to us all, from a family perspective, that my Dad received much from you and that group.
My dad suffered a brain aneurysm five weeks ago. As he’d done with any other obstacle in his life thus far, he struggled hard and put up one hell of a fight. My Dad lost that struggle one week ago. We lost a great man.
As I sat at his funeral, I thought about all that he’d overcome in his life. I thought about his truth, his dignity, and his strength. He always managed to move on and bring his family right along with him. He’d just moved to Florida with Mom, ready for a new stage in his life. At 62 he was poised to be another Florida retiree with white shorts, sandals and a big grin on his face.
Before he left for Florida, he sat in my kitchen and said that he was going to find Jerid. No one questioned why. We knew that he wanted to shake your hand before he left, and to let you know that he would never forget how you had helped him pull his life back together after the accident. Sad to say, he was unable to find you.
Consider this letter to be a handshake from a guy with a big grin. I’m honored to carry out his wishes. Please know that he carried his respect for you in his heart, and I know that he is smiling as I write this letter.
The family of Richard Jeffrey has heard this phrase for the last 17 years… ‘I don’t have to be perfect just because I’m head injured’… and for that, we thank you.