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Letter: I lost my dad to a fire in Detroit Lakes one year ago, DL community was silent when we needed it most

It's been one year since I lost my dad Thanksgiving weekend 2017. How fast a year goes, and yet it feels like I got that call just yesterday.

Those reading this and that have been a part of the Detroit Lakes community for a while know my family. We sat next to you in church every Sunday and shook hands. My brother and I went to Holy Rosary and grew up with your children. We probably ran into each other in Central Market, or while on a quick Walmart or M&H trip. You know my family. You knew my dad.

Growing up I always considered DL a small town with welcoming people. The church was a central part of my childhood. What I have found, is that in a tragedy, the true soul of a community is seen. What I saw as a child was merely a façade, and the underbelly of the town and truly the Catholic Church saddens me.

My mom did not receive one card, phone call, letter of support from anyone in the Detroit Lakes community. All those people she sat next to in church, silent. All those people who knew my sweet mother in passing on the street over the past 30 years, silent. My family never asked for much, and the one time she NEEDED a shoulder, a kind word, where were you as a community?

My brother and I were raised in the church. I know all the Bible stories. Love thy neighbor — did the Holy Rosary Community miss that lesson? My family was active in the church for almost 30 years and yet when we really needed compassion there was no one there. No calls, no letters, except for the birthday card that Holy Rosary sent to my dad (in Florida? How they found our address, I don't know) on his birthday, three months after his death. That one hurt.

My mom never missed Sunday church and now, after how she was treated, she hasn't been able to step foot in church since.

The people that should be the most supportive, besides the church, should have been my parent's neighbors. Yes, some were displaced for a while and their clothes may have been sooty, but did they get to hug their loved ones that night? I didn't get to hug my dad again. I know he would have been beyond apologetic for the mess he caused, he was one to always try to blend in, and never wanted to stick out or cause grief.

But how some of my parents' neighbors treated my mom and talked about my dad after his passing was beyond disgusting. You know who you are, and you should be ashamed.

There were a few beautiful souls within the community that brought some peace to my family. First, Robert Strand, the police officer who took care of my mom during those first moments and kept her safe until my brother and I could arrive and who continued to be a rock for our family during those first weeks, thank you. You have an amazing soul, and my family will always remember how you treated us.

Second, the ladies at Norby's Department Store that helped my mom find new clothes. You have no idea how much that meant to me how you treated her. Such care and understanding. Thank you. You are truly the shining stars of the community — I wish there were more like you.

Third, Price's Jewelers, you took dad's rings and brought them back to life and asked for nothing in return. We didn't think we would see them shine again, but now they are a treasured memory of dad.

Last but not least, those at West Central Turkeys in Pelican Rapids. I hope you read this and know how much my mom loved you guys. You were her shoulder to cry on, and the ear to listen when she needed it. Thank you for being there when I couldn't. She misses each and every one of you.

In closing, I just want you all to know how much my dad loved this community. He saw nothing but the good in it, but that is how he saw the world. He had such a beautiful heart. I miss him every day.

I hope those of you reading this take a minute to reflect instead of getting angry over my words. I hope when sitting in church you think a little more about why you are there and what the Catholic community is supposed to represent. I hope that the town of Detroit Lakes never has another tragedy such as this, but I know that probably won't be. So instead, I hope you treat the next family in need a little better than how you treated mine. — Teresa Seim, formerly of Detroit Lakes

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