Father’s goodbye letter delivered to kids 36 years later

CANNON BEACH, OR (KGW) An Oregon man has received a letter from his dying father, 36-years after it was written and 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, then four and two-years-old.

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.

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.

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