“Lasting Words” helps individuals express their values, beliefs and memories, using their words to write a letter, obituary, story or statement as a lasting gift for loved ones.
Molly Kavanaugh started “Lasting Words” because her life is shaped by words, and she believes in their enduring power. She began writing in a journal when she was a teenager, a practice she continues today. Journal writing has brought her inspiration, healing and clarity.
As a newspaper reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Molly was committed to telling the stories of others with compassion and accuracy. She accompanied World War II Veterans to Washington D.C. on Honor Flight, interviewed a couple just hours after a dramatic rescue from Lake Erie, and wrote about her personal grief following the death of her dad. For these assignments, and hundreds of others for the Plain Dealer, Cincinnati Post and other newspapers, Molly brought a high standard of excellence and sensitivity to her reporting and writing.
At a non-profit hospice, Molly was responsible for editing a newsletter and writing stories about patients and families. Molly helped launch the agency's ethical will program, which helps patients compose a letter to loved ones.
Molly was a Stephen Minister for eight years. Through this lay, non-denominational ministry, Molly was a skilled and compassionate listener, bringing comfort to women who were grieving or facing other challenges. Currently, Molly mentors residents at the Volunteers of America homeless shelter in Sandusky.
My dad wrote me one letter in his life, in pencil on a yellow legal pad of paper. But one letter was all he needed to write. His words of encouragement and love, mailed to me when I was a college student, are etched in my heart. Though he has been gone nearly 20 years, his words continue to give me strength.
My dad’s letter is stored in the back of a picture frame that sits on a bookcase next to my bed. Inside the frame is another letter. My husband Frank is a photographer, and pictures, not words, are how he best expresses himself. But on our 20th wedding anniversary he gave me the gift I had always wanted– a letter full of words describing his love for me.
I bought the picture frame on my 50th birthday, when my teenage son Cody surprised me with a poem. In part, the poem reads:
“When skies are blue
You’ll continue to teach me as I age
Taking me through life
Step by step, page by page.”
I often turn to these three pieces of paper for comfort, support and encouragement, in times of joy, on milestone dates and during dark days.
A fourth letter waits in the wings for me. Several years ago my mother was very ill, so I opened the folder containing her funeral arrangements. Inside were two sealed envelopes – one addressed to me, the other to my brother. My mom recovered, and the letters remain unopened.
These are among my most valuable possessions.
Molly’s writing awards include:
Cleveland Press Club
Award of Excellence
Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council
Golden Image Award
Ohio Philanthropic Homes,
Housing and Services for Aging
American Council of the Blind of Ohio
Team Reporter of the Year
First Place Features
Ohio United Press International
Best Feature Writer