Instead of writing an eulogy, Mitchell Weinzetl, decided to write a thank you letter to his parents, before they were gone.  “I decided there was no reason to wait until they were gone to mention all the wonderful things they have done for me and our family,” Weinzetl said.  “That thought process eventually resulted in me thinking it is a shame that we do not tell people how important they are to us while they are alive, rather, we reserve those comments until after they are gone, oftentimes being regretful for that decision. That is what prompted the letter.”
“For me, family has always been an important part of life. In fact, I remember talking with my uncle who was deathly ill, while he was lying in his hospital bed. This was a man who had been tremendously successful in his lifetime. As he lay there, knowing that he was going to be leaving the earth, he told me ‘none of it matters, the money, the success, none of it matters; family is what is important.’” Mitchell’s parents, Larry and Shirley, who live on Lake Minnebelle, between Hutchinson and Litchfield, have been married for 51 years and have five children. Larry owns a barber shop in Dassel and Shirley is very active with St. Philip Catholic Church in Litchfield. Mitch wrote his letter October 11, 2002 and received a letter back from his mother, describing how touched they were to receive the letter. “It is perhaps a bit humorous to think of it now,” Mitch said, “since everything is done electronically. In those days people still mailed letters. Of course, it was nice to get a response, but that really was not the point. For me, the important point was to ensure that they were aware of how truly thankful I was and am, for having such wonderful parents.” His father, Larry, said “how wonderful of him to recognize it while we are still here and make his comment.” The letter October 11, 2002 Dear Mom & Dad: First of all — don’t get worried because I’m writing you a letter. Just read it — and make sure you enjoy the moment as much as I’m enjoying writing it. I was reading something today — and it made me think of the two of you. It’s funny how we go through life — never thinking about the tough things, until one day we find ourselves thinking about the tough things a lot. The more life I experience, the more I realize how precious life is, and how important the people are who are in my life who love me, and whom I love. Lately I’ve been thinking about a lot of things — about retirement, my children’s future, my mortality, and the inevitable mortality of those who are most important to me — my family, and more specifically, you, my parents. I’ve even gone as far as picturing myself delivering the eulogy at a funeral for one of you — when the date for that is hardly set, and hopefully very far away. And yet, when I think of those moments, while I dread their eventual occurrence, I am overcome with a sense of pride, love, and calm. Then, as I sat reading a little article today, I had a bit of an epiphany. I began asking myself why I need to wait until someone is gone to tell them how I feel. So, I’m writing to you — today — while you’re still here — to tell you what you’ve meant to me. Mom — how does a child who couldn’t come up with even one chore to tell his Catechism teacher he could do for his mother, ever begin to thank her. Look at all you have done for your children — giving up all of your time and energy to raise them. Cooking, cleaning, working full-time, going to sporting events, taking kids to the doctor — well you get the idea, the list is endless. You think that you get too involved with your kids lives — interfering and such. Simply not true. Sure, things don’t always go as we planned (for any of us), and you know what they say about “best intentions.” Still, the fact that you’re always there is comforting and reassuring, and I assure you that you’re “interfering” will be sorely missed someday. The love and affection you have shown to your children throughout our lives is an example to all. You have also given us the gifts of music and worship, and a keen sense of morals and values that will serve as a roadmap for us for the rest of our lives. Dad — you are a man of great wisdom; far greater than many learned scholars who hold advanced degrees. I know that you know this, and I also know that you have thoughts of greater things you could have done in life. I also know that you have regrets — about working too much, not being there, not making enough money, or simply being too hard on your kids. The truth is that I’ve been a parent over 10 years and I still can’t figure out how you did as well as you did. Economic and emotional factors weighed heavily in many of the difficulties that faced our entire family, and yet, we made it through. You need to know that you have riches beyond those of millionaires. You have children who love you — and who would do anything for you. You have a spouse who has held true to her commitment, as you have, to hold close to each other through the good times and the bad. How does a person measure success? Is it by financial means, power, or maybe status? I think a person measures “success” by how they live their lives — by being a loving person and living their lives everyday as a Christian. When I think of where I am today, my job, my family, my support system, they all started with the two of you. If I am a success, by whichever standard applies, much of the credit goes to you. I want to share a couple of other comments with you. You know the story “footprints in the sand.” I think there’s another passage to that story. Before God ever had a chance to carry me on his shoulders, my parents had to give me to him. So you see, when there was only one set of footprints in the sand, I was being carried. But though God carried me over many journeys of difficulty, there were many times when my parents carried me too. I’m not sure who said it — but I once heard a comment that went like this: “It’s not my job to be my child’s friend, it’s my job to be my child’s parent. I hope that someday we become friends, but now, my job is to be the parent.” When I think about the challenges that face Rhonda and I as we raise our children, I think about the relationship that I have with the both of you. I can’t imagine what life would be like without the two of you — and yet I know that day will someday come. But for now, I want you to know that you aren’t just my parents anymore — you’re my friends — and I love you with all my heart. Thanks for setting an example for me to follow — I only hope that I will enjoy the friendship and kinship with my children someday that I have been fortunate enough to share with my parents. Your son, Mitch. I love you!