Today I was startled to receive a letter from a woman that I never knew. Her husband was Ron Wolff, a classmate of mine from Woodrow Wilson High in Camden. Since my last name was “W”, too, Ronny and I were usually in the same homeroom. I remembered him as a kind and gentle young man who ran track and that he had light blond hair and blue, blue eyes. We only talked a little in homeroom, but he was always pleasant and friendly. I had heard that he was living in California and that he continued to run and that he was a surfer. I looked him up on Facebook and I think that he had been a bus driver.
Classmates on Facebook let me know that Ron was fighting cancer and they asked for classmates to send him a card or a letter to help keep up his spirits. I hadn’t seen Ron since high school and I combed my mind to think what could I say to him. I almost didn’t send anything because I wasn’t even sure that he would remember me and I was tired.
But, I did write a letter (snail mail, written in pen) and I told him that I remembered him from school and that I knew he was looking forward to hearing from classmates. I wrote what I could recall of a conversation one day in Miss Hoelderle’s junior year homeroom–that he told me that he liked my new jumper with the red belt. Somehow that little compliment stuck in my mind. I can’t remember exactly what I wrote, but I tried to make it cheery and a little funny to brighten up even a moment in his battle with cancer. I think that I told him a little about my life and that I was married with one daughter, I had three cats, I lived in Cramer Hill and that I was a teacher.
Anyway, today I have in my hand this letter from his widow. She explained that she was looking through Ron’s personal effects and found the letter. She thanked me for writing it and said that it lightened his spirit when he was very much in need and meant a lot to him. He mentioned something that seemed he knew who I was. I was so glad that I had written it. She even mentioned the drawing that I must have added to the letter–I’m not sure what I “drew”–maybe stick figures of my family and cats?
She said that reading my letter brought her closer to understanding about Ron’s youth. I guess that I wrote something about high school life/Camden? She told me that on a trip back East, they tried to visit Ron’s former home in Camden, but the neighborhood looked so rough that they did not get out of the car.
Her grief and pain about losing her husband spilled out in the letter. They had married in 2009 and she could not believe that he was gone. She said that he was courageous in his illness and he kept running and exercising, doing push-ups until the last three weeks of his life. My heart turned over for her and for him.
She ended the letter saying–please send my love to all Ron’s friends.
There is a return address sticker on the envelope with Ron’s name on it. I’ll send her a note to let her know that I received it.
That letter taught me a good lesson–if you have a chance to send a card or letter to someone who could use a bit of cheering up, do it. If there’s someone out there that you know who might be happy to hear from you, please make that little bit of effort. And, above all, treasure your family and friends every day.
Written by Marguerite Ferra, Cramer Hill