The following is a letter from the family of Irene Lee, explaining how and why they came to select SGF as their preferred charity to receive donations in memory of their late family member. It is still quite touching, even after all these years.
December 4, 2001
Dear Dr. Alpert,
By now I hope you have received some donations in honor of my mother Irene Lee, who died November 23rd at the age of 69, after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. I wanted to explain why we asked people to give to your foundation, and also to tell you a little bit about my mother.
My mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 18 months ago, and became gradually weaker until she died two weeks ago. Last spring, she read about Steve and the other kids who died in the bus accident. She was particularly moved by an article in one of the newspapers that quoted Steve as having written that he hoped he would live to an old age and die peacefully. When she read that, she cried, and said, “This is a tragedy. I am not a tragedy.” My mother in fact did have the luxury of living to a relatively old age, and of dying peacefully at home in her own bed, surrounded by her three daughters and my dad. Painful as it was, it was as good as a death can be, I suppose.
Her first child, my oldest sister, died at the age of five from leukemia. Losing a child is a particular kind of unbearable loss that only those who have lived it can understand. Your son sounds like an unusually wonderful kid, and my heart goes out to you and your family.
There are many reasons that my family and I chose your foundation for people to give in my mom’s memory. These include: her reaction to Steve’s untimely death; the loss of her own child; and the fact that my parents lived in Newton Centre for the last 30 years and spent many beautiful summers in Maine. Also, the goals of your foundation are both realistic and idealistic, and mom, a former social worker, would have appreciated these.
Thank you for having the foresight and generosity to set up a foundation to help the many kids in need of financial and emotional support. I hope the gifts from those who were touched by my mother can add a little to what you have already received.
Dara K. Lee