SEQUIM — A Christmas wish posted on social media came true — with some unexpected and abundant seasonal cheer — for the family of a Sequim man and his fellow senior care facility neighbors.
Rodney Hofman, a U.S. Air Force veteran, has plenty of holiday well-wishes for himself and others at Dungeness Courte Memory Care after some of his family members recently sent out a request for Christmas cards for him on Facebook.
At last count on Wednesday, Hofman and friends had received 423 cards, sent from across the nation and even internationally.
Hofman’s daughter, Janel Hofman Edmiston, said she came up with the idea and posted on a couple of Facebook group pages as well as her own page.
“We had this inspiration because one of my dad’s favorite activities in the memory care home was to re-read his birthday cards from October — or (read) the same National Geographic magazine over and over again,” Edmiston said in an email.
“We thought he might like some Christmas cards for something new to read and enjoy.”
Edmiston’s daughter Carolyn, a 22-year-old graduate student at California State University-Long Beach, posted a similar request on her neighborhood Nextdoor group. From there, it was shared with a few other groups, and eventually in England and other countries, Edmiston said.
The response from neighbors, she said, was amazing: more than 200 initially agreed to mail him various cards, letters, candy and gifts.
Hofman has received cards, scratch tickets and even a Seahawks Christmas Ornament, one he proudly displayed on his Christmas door wreath, noted Jan L. Orr, Dungeness Courte Memory Care’s director of community relations.
The giving didn’t focus solely on Hofman. His daughter and granddaughter asked in their post if people would be interested in sending well-wishes to others at Dungeness Courte.
“While we are excited and thankful for the response for my dad, it’s especially wonderful that many also sent cards to ‘any resident,’ and any of the residents were able to join in the fun,” Edmiston said.
Some teachers are sending packets of cards to the Sequim residents from their students, she said.
When the card-opening began Dec. 16, Hofman opened them one by one, and then other residents joined in, Edmiston said.
“According to one caretaker, this was a lot of fun for residents, and they enjoyed being social and reading together,” she said. “It made their day(s) brighter.”
Born in Bellingham, Hofman graduated from Ferndale High School in 1952 before he served in the U.S. Air Force.
Edmiston said her father flew more than 150 combat missions in the Vietnam War, earning a bronze star in the process.
Hofman flew for United Airlines following his retirement from the military, and he flew locally with the Civil Air Patrol. He and his wife Madelyn, who is now a Sunland resident, moved to Sequim in 1993 and built a house on Bell Hill.
Hofman was diagnosed with dementia in 2015 and Alzheimer’s disease in the past year, Edmiston said. He’s been at Dungeness Courte since Nov. 6.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, only Madelyn has been able to visit — and that on a limited basis, said Edmiston, a California resident.
The card-giving has been a pleasant surprise, she said.
“The response was overwhelming; people seemed thrilled to be able to send a card … and felt involved in a positive way to brighten up someone’s day,” she said.
One Facebook post noted: “Today is my birthday and I know what it feels like to feel so distant from someone who (you) want to care for. We lost my husband 20 months ago to leukemia … I feel like my best present hands-down, was your post!”
Edmiston said many who responded have or had family members who are veterans, or who have or had dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
“Many have also thanked us for the opportunity to give, especially among times that are hard for many,” she said. “This story has been uplifting to many and has put people in a ‘Christmas spirit.’ ”
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].