My father Dale passed away in on July 2, 2002 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, after being diagnosed the previous year. I was blessed to be with him for the last week of his life. It seems odd to say I was blessed, but as I look at the bright colorful joyous books that have somehow been created through me since then, there is no other word to describe it. I have not often emphasized my poetry's connection to my father's illness, perhaps because my father would rather have you enjoy the stories and illustrations more than think about his illness or suffering. He was a man who found joy in life, through his family, in an incredibly creative mind that loved and was loved by numbers and mathematics, and through his faith in God. It was an awful, awesome and yet a beautiful thing to see his spirit grow stronger as his body grew weaker, and to watch that spirit begin to soar. And my very first poem, "Look at My Hands", was written about our experience and serves as a guide for me to this very day.
But I might make you sad if I said any more about that, and that is not my intent.
As I look around at the books you've seen on this website, as I laugh at Lily the Llama as she makes children smile, and as I recite the "llama poem" one more time, I am reminded that God uses all things for good for those who love him. I see my father alive in the books that I write, and I feel my Father's love for all His children. I love to share that joy with everyone, and today I'd like to share some extra love with those who, like my father, face the prospect of living and dying with ALS. So today I'm telling his story and informing you about the ALS Association which has done, is doing and will do wonders for those stricken by this terrible disease.
I am posting the link to the ALS Association of St. Louis website below in case you'd like to find out more about their mission or consider a donation. Thank you in any case for taking the time to read this and to let me share this personal story with you. May God bless you and yours!
The ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter
1950 Craig Road, Suite 200, Saint Louis, MO 63146
P: 314.432.7257 or 888.873-8539