Letter: A thank you note from 'the Ridgefield Walker' and his family

To the Editor:

I’m writing this note on behalf of my father, Michael Nardone, who has become affectionately known as the ‘Ridgefield Walker’. While my family does not know many of you personally, we feel like we do - through the various stories my father has shared about his 20+ years of walking your quiet, beautiful streets. As best I can remember, my father started running/walking in the sun, rain, cold and snow, some 60 years ago - and he’s never stopped. But it was his Ridgefield ‘journey’ that created the most enjoyment for him. He would often tell us that he was meeting the kindest people, who offered friendly waves and smiles. He shared stories of stopping along his routes to speak with everyone – sharing words of encouragement for their day ahead. He told us how much these seemingly simple interactions meant to him – saying hello to the children waiting for the school bus, cheering on the early morning joggers, and talking with neighbors picking up their mail about the various challenges of the day.

To be entirely honest, sometimes as a family, we didn’t really understand his ‘journey walking’ – maybe we were just too busy to listen, or didn’t really think it was all that meaningful to people. Then something happened – my father stopped walking. At first we thought it was his heart valve, but then found out it was much worse. My father was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, stage three. As you can imagine, it’s been a whirlwind of activity, trying to sort out the best care and support, given this difficult diagnosis.

It’s been during this time a very personal and caring thing started to happen – my father began receiving cards of well wishes from the community. We would visit his home, to pick up his mail, and there they were – a few at first, then stacks, then bundles of cards, personally delivered. The cards just kept coming. If people didn’t know where my father lived, they dropped a card at St Mary’s Parish. If they knew someone who knew my father, they handed the cards to them. As a family, we’ve all been humbled by this genuine act of community caring and kindness. It’s helped us better understand that you can truly impact someone’s life just by being ‘present’ and actively listening, as you go about your day. Imagine if my father walked with headphones, listening to music? He might have missed these beautiful connections. But he didn’t, he never would have. He’s lived his whole life being absolutely present and engaged with his family – through thick and thin – so of course he’d do the same for the Ridgefield community that he so loves and that has loved him back.

For those who have sent cards, expressed concern via Facebook, I want to personally thank you, on behalf of my father. Please know that he has read every card and note, and he is so thankful for each and every sentiment of support and encouragement. If he was able, he would have responded to all of you. Please accept this note as his personal thank you.

My father also wanted me to remind everyone to stay connected to the community, keep moving forward, and to remain positive in attitude, regardless of what life throws at you.

Thank you again for making my father, the Ridgefield Walker, feel so at home, in your special community.

Mike Nardone Jr.

Southport, Conn., Nov. 15