Monday's Musings: "Thank You" Doesn't Have an Expiration Date

by Mary Denman   @MaryDenman

My dear father-in-law, Larry Denman
I learned an incredible lesson from a dying man. 

"Thank you" doesn't have an expiration date. 

In June of 2012, my father-in-law was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis. He was immediately put in Hospice care. They gave him 4-6 months to live. 

While it was a shock to the rest of us, my father-in-law took it really, really well. He decided to keep living as long as he he had breath. 


He wanted to have their longstanding Christmas party in December, 2012. So, even though he was slowing down, they still had the party. All of their friends gathered for the last time, enjoying the night. I took pictures of everyone with 'Ole Larry. 

He had some ups and downs, but in January of 2013, Hospice had to send a doctor in to re-evaluate him since he had lived 6 months. They rarely missed a diagnosis. The doctor came and declared he still needed Hospice services. 

(He then lived another 4 months. I jokingly said he made it well past his original expiration date.)

That January, I went to help care for my father-in-law during a downturn. It was precious time with him. 

Here's some of what I learned. 

A Hospice nurse said he was the happiest dying man she had ever met. Caring for the dying is what she does. Yet, he stood out to her. 


Well, what I noticed while caring for him is that he was grateful and appreciative. 

Every time we sat down at the table, he recounted the blessings in his life. The trips they got to take to Hawaii, the Caribbean, Israel, Germany. He appreciated the view of "his" mountains. He thanked me for being there. For being patient with him.

Then, he asked me to let him dictate thank you notes to me, let him review them and then sign them. 

That's when I learned that a "thank you" doesn't expire. 

For one of the notes, he thanked a friend for helping them move from Florida to North Carolina 36 years ago. Yes, 36 years ago! He remembered about his friend driving the truck with all their furnishings. 

I can't even imagine getting a thank you note for something I did 10, 20, 30 years ago! But he remembered and appreciated what his friend did. 36 years ago. 

I was humbled by my father-in-law's gratefulness. For him remembering a long gone memory, and saying, "Thank you. I appreciated you driving that big truck for a couple of days to help my family move." 

How sad that I forget to say thank you to those around me very often. 

Starting today, I want to go out of my way to say thank you to at least one person every single day. 

I want to start going back in time, thanking people for what they did years ago. 

Mom and Dad at the beach, by Mary Denman Photography
And that begins with my Daddy. You see, he reads my blog. :) That makes me so happy. 

Daddy, thank your being the best dad I could have asked for. Thanks for the barrel candy you'd bring home after work. For playing great music in the house. For taking us to concerts. For letting me keep Tabitha. For bringing me flowers on my 16th birthday. For always loving Mom. For always loving us. 

I love you, Daddy.

Don't let your thank you's expire. Tell your friends thank you. Tell a cashier thank you. Join me in sharing thanks each and every day. 

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1 Thess. 5:18


Tweetable:  Thank You doesn't have an expiration date (click and tweet)

clairejustineparty  The Chicken Chick


  1. Such a moving post Mary, it bought tears to my eye. Sometime we forget to be grateful with the stresses of busy lives and it is good to be reminded... your post made lots of thoughts rush through my mind.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing at Creative Mondays..

    1. You're welcome Claire! I need to be reminded myself to give thanks. I'm glad it touched you Claire!

  2. Thank you, Mary. My father has been gone 16 months. His mind was slipping at the last, but not totally. Twice he looked at me, when I told him goodbye during those last months, and he said, "I didn't know I had a daughter." I just playfully punched him on the arm and said, "Yes you did. Quit teasing me." Then the next time I was there, he'd know me, or he'd call me on the phone and talk until Mom got the phone from him. :) My mom keeps his picture hanging near the hall at their house and she told me she'll walk past it and tell him what she's doing for the day. I have his picture on my refrig., and when it's quiet here in the house I'll sometimes catch a glimpse of it and tell him how much I miss him. I thank him for being there for us. He was so concerned about Mom being alone. He once tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Now, you know, I hope you'll check on your mother, if something happens to me." Ha. He didn't have to worry. She and I talk at least twice a day on the phone or meet somewhere for a bite to eat, if schedules allow. She's 82 and got herself a brand new, huge lawn mower and takes care of her acre of land. Won't hear of me or anyone else doing it. She's stubborn. My first book comes out on Saturday, I wish I could give a copy to Dad. He was a good storyteller...all the old family stories. He thanked me for taking his slides and putting some of them on a CD. I never got all two thousand transferred, but I shall .... someday. Guess, I just wrote a book to you. Ha.

    1. Karen I'm so sorry about losing your dad. I know how hard it is. But I'm glad you still have your mom! I talk to my dad daily since we lost mom.

      I'm glad you have good memories with dad. They will help carry you through the hard days.

      Thanks for sharing Karen!

  3. What a wonderful man and you were so blessed! Thank you for sharing this with us and...I want to thank you for your friendship and for all you and Todd have done for me and my family. You are loved and appreciated!

    1. You are so welcome Beth!!! We love you guys too!

  4. Mary We were always taught to mind our P's & Q's, and I hope it's one thing that my kids would always remember. A please and thank you goes a long way in life....and a great way to take you on to whatever is next! How wonderful that your FIL in his last days was able to ensure all his thank you's were made. Thank you for making making me stop and think in my day. This is a wonderful post, I do so love your Monday Musings.
    Wren x

    1. Thanks Wren! I was blessed with that time with him. And remembering to say thank you the way he did was just inspiring.

      Come visit Wren! I have the guest room ready. ;)

  5. Great post. Pinned and tweeted. We are so thrilled to have you at our party. Please stop by on Monday at 7, so we can see your amazing projects. Lou Lou Girls

    1. Thanks Kimberly! I'll be happy to join you!