My Perspective: Debbie Dovel

The Wishing Well

Wishing Well from Class of 2008

If you’re like me, you probably grew up being told that if you made a wish and threw a penny in a wishing well, it might just come true. I didn’t come across too many wishing wells on the back roads where I grew up, but I know all about making wishes. When you think about it, a wish is pretty much a prayer, because who is it you are asking to answer your wish but God? As far as I’m concerned, He’s the only one out there listening, whether you’re throwing pennies in wells or wishing on the first star in the sky at night. Whether it’s a small wish you had as a child for a kitten or a puppy, or the big ones as an adult asking for a loved ones’s safety in a war far away or healing for someone close to you with a life-threatening disease, a wish is a prayer your heart makes to the One who holds the future in his hands. We’ve all experienced the thrill of having a wish granted, a prayer answered the way we hoped, and we’ve all had the bottom fall out of our worlds when it went the other way. To me, seeing a wishing well reminds me that we still have a chance to make another wish and believe in a better future for our children and grandchildren.

We recently received the gift of a very special Wishing Well from our son’s classmates, the Hamburg High School Class of 2008. As many of you know, Chad passed away last year on Feb. 9, 2014 at the age of 24. He left behind many lives that he touched in a positive way by his perseverance and bravery in his lifelong fight with Juvenile Batten Disease. We created a memory garden in his honor in our back yard last spring and have been adding things to it that remind us of all the things Chad loved. There are stone memorial plaques and statues of angels and dragons we received from family and friends, even a statue of a boy on a tractor from his sister. One of our biggest items just added this spring from his Aunt Marie is a NASCAR concrete bench painted in the black and and white checkered flag design with the green and red Mountain Dew car on it, driven by #88, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Chad’s favorite driver. The latest addition is the Wishing Well that Chad’s class had given to the school when they graduated where it’s been displayed in the solarium between the old high school and the junior high buildings. A couple months ago, some of his classmates, knowing that the building was closing at the end of June decided they wanted to honor Chad’s memory by giving it to us for his garden. Teri Emberton, who was their class sponsor and Jacob Jones, the class president and also Chad’s cousin, went before the school board and obtained permission to remove it from the school grounds and present it to us. After doing some weatherproofing and re-staining it, we planted flowers in it and put it in the garden. The class had even put a small brass plaque on it engraved with these words “In Loving Memory of Chad Dovel”. The previous larger plaque is still there which proclaims “Presented by the Class of 2008″. What a wonderful way to honor the memory of our son and their classmate! We are deeply touched by their actions, and every time I see it sitting proudly there in Chad’s Memory Garden amongst all his favorite things, I think about how much he loved his classmates and Hamburg High School. Those were some of the best days of his life before the disease took so much away. He loved all his teachers and aides, especially Donna Fichter, his “partner”, as she called herself for so many of his years in school. He loved to stop in the kitchen and talk to the cooks; Kathy, Helen, & Lois, especially Kathy, cause she loved NASCAR, too, and they could talk about their favorite drivers and the latest race. His favorite class was Chorus, because singing was something he loved to do, outside of talking, probably because he could sing clearly for long after his speech became affected by Batten. He was so proud to be part of the Wildcats Wrestling team his freshman year, and his Wildcat letterman’s jacket was his most prized possession throughout high school. He lived for Friday night home football games, where he’d stand along the sidelines with his dad, yelling “Go, Blue!” as loud as he could.

When I look out my bedroom window each morning towards Chad’s Garden, and I see the Wishing Well, all those memories run thru my mind, and sometimes if the light’s just right, I’ll see the shadow of young man in a blue and white jacket sitting on the bench and throwing pennies into the wishing well.

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