Thank You Letter

Fall flowers and a donation to Ronald McDonald House in memory of her deceased daughter inspired kindness and generosity for bereaved mother Robin Botie in Ithaca, New York.Dear Wag’in Tail Dog Grooming in Auburn, NY,

Thank you so much for your gift to Ronald McDonald House in memory of my daughter Marika Warden. I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m not even sure Marika knew you. But I’m very grateful for your donation. Unless you are another bereaved mother you probably wouldn’t understand how much it means to know that the life of your child mattered, or could make a difference somewhere. It means the world to me that five years after her death, Marika could inspire kindness and generosity.

And I’m so glad you chose to give to Ronald McDonald House. Because in the sad parting from the city where I last “left” my daughter, and in all this time since she died, I never really thanked the warm people at Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald House-Within-the-Hospital who welcomed the distraught mother standing at their doorsteps dazed and red-eyed, early on in her journey through the wilds of cancer, sobbing, “Is this for real? You mean I can sleep here and you’ll wake me if the hospital calls?”

Imagine you’ve traveled far from your home to seek treatment for your sick child. You know no one in this city. You sleep in the hospital’s uncomfortable reclining chairs, not wanting to leave your precious one alone. You eat from your child’s almost-untouched meal trays. You’re told not to use The Patient’s Bathroom, so you dash down the hall to the ladies room when you have to, and hug the sympathetic nurse who shows you the shower in a nearby slop closet. Your kid reacts to chemo so horrifically you don’t dare leave her bedside until things stabilize, and when they do you suddenly realize how tired and disheveled you’ve become. You don’t know how to begin to resuscitate yourself. And then, one day you’re offered a very affordable room close by.

First it was a room right in the hospital, a few floors down from the oncology unit. Later it was in a house a couple of blocks away. A room with a real bed and my own bathroom. Washers and driers nearby. Flowers. Meals lovingly prepared and left for whatever hour of the night I would tear myself away from my daughter. There were other mothers to talk to. Families. People like me, living in a strange city with invisible thick rubber bands tethering them to their critically ill children in the hospital, gratefully pulling themselves back and forth from their home-away-from-home, to regroup. Ronald McDonald Charities. You picked a good place to help out.

So thank you, Wag’in Tail. For your gift, for reviving my memories, for letting Marika’s story move you, and for allowing her life to still count for something. Cheers!


PS: Wag’in, The note Ronald McDonald House sent to inform me of your donation was what gave me the most joy this week. I don’t know your real name. But I know you are no longer a stranger.


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4 thoughts on “Thank You Letter

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Wow, Robin. What a wonderful surprise and reminder of our interconnection. I wonder if you found the person who made the donation or if you sent a copy of this blog to them. I sure hope you did. The circle of gratitude keeps growing.I knew Ronald McDonald House had rooms at the hospital because you told me that when we met in the patient kitchen on the oncology ward. I’m glad you were supported there. I was similarly supported by the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge which is now much closer to the hospital than it was 8 years ago and provides a meal each day. I know because I did a reading there. I imagine the Ronald McDonald House would be interested in your experience and your beautiful book.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I also spent a lot of time at the Hope Lodge, Elaine. Loved that place too. If you ever do another event up there I’d love to go with you. I haven’t returned to Hope Lodge or Ronald McDonald House in Rochester. But I know I will one day. Yes, the mystery of the donor was solved. Will be writing about it soon. It ended differently from anything I imagined. More about that coming.

  2. Annette Corth

    Another lovely piece, Robin.

    I had no idea that the Ronald McDonald House did that much for relatives of patients.


    1. Robin Botie Post author

      It’s an amazing operation, Annette. The Ronald McDonald Houses are all over the world offering places to stay for families with critically ill kids, so they can be near and support them. The houses are beautifully designed with playgrounds, gathering areas, quiet areas, libraries, warm welcoming kitchen areas, and cozy rooms. They have programs and people coming in with gifts, and pets to hug. They provide a place where one feels safe and cared for. If Marika hadn’t been so sick during the times we spent at the RonMcD houses, I would have said they made for great vacations.


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