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Missing my Father

March 12, 2015
Westfield Republican

Dear Editor,

I am an orphan. The vast majority of us will become orphans at some point in our lives. It is the natural order of things. With luck, we will be well along in years before it happens.

My father passed away recently. My mother has been gone for just over two years. Their loss hits me deeply. For over four years I drove to my parent's house every day to bring them meals, company and care. The house has been locked up now and there is no reason to go there anymore. I am lost. I don't know what to do with my days. Several times each day I think, "I should hurry up and get to Dad's" or "I should call and check on Dad," and I remember he's not there. He's not sitting in his chair, which used to be my mother's, waiting for me, waiting to say, "C'mon in, I'm in the parlor."

It's never easy, losing a loved one; but I have come to appreciate the word "community." Some people are blessed with a close-knit family; others with a vast extended family; and some with a community of people who care and look out for you. My community, Ripley, is such a place. I have always loved the town of Ripley, but I have come to realize recently what a really special place this is.

Community does not exist in buildings or manicured lawns, it is in the hearts of the people. While Chautauqua County Hospice cared for first my mother, then my father, the nurses and health aides were always talking about Ripley and how unique it is, but it didn't sink in until one of the nurses recently told me about walking into Meeder's Restaurant, and there, plastered all over the bulletin board, were details about a couple of their patients and requests for cards and assistance. She couldn't believe it. Hospice adheres to privacy laws and they are not allowed to discuss their patients. But here, in this small town, everyone knows, or knows of, everyone else, and we care about each other. Hospice nurses assure me that this is unique to Ripley. While other places know and care about people in their towns, it is not to the extent we have here.

As a teen that kind of knowledge was not welcome. Everybody seemed to know your business, even the things you didn't want known. But as an adult, I love that the community knows and cares about each other. We're here for each other. This is a special place.

To that end, I want to publically thank all the wonderful people in my hometown for their expressions of sympathy, their prayers, their offers of help, and their unwavering support during the past four years. Without you, this would have been a much harder journey. A special thank you to the men in uniform who came to pay their respects and salute my father, Bill Near, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea. You broke the dam that was built up in me and allowed the tears to flow.

Robyn Near



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