Journal Entry: John Dalaly-11/26/2023-Growing in the Face of Adversity

Journal Entry

As I prepare to surrender to the federal prison camp in Hazelton, West Virginia, I think about the lessons I will learn while serving this 28-month sentence.

I hope to use this time to grow. I am 71-years old. Yet when speaking to anyone young or old, I try to convey a message that it’s never too early and it’s never too late to start sowing seeds for a better life. All of us face adversity at one time or another. If we look inside, we will find that God has blessed us all with the strength to grow—even through adversity.

I have been reflecting on the precious moments I’ve shared with my eight incredible grandchildren. Each one of them is unique, with their own special talents and qualities that make my heart swell with pride.

Sarina, the oldest at 13, is a bright and goal-oriented individual. Her academic achievements are remarkable, and her talent for singing is simply superb. She radiates happiness and care for others, setting an inspiring example for her younger siblings and cousins.

Aubry, at 11, is a sweet and loving soul. She wears her heart on her sleeve and sometimes takes her time with homework, much like her mother used to do. It’s a little family quirk that always brings a smile to our faces.

Thomas, only 7 years old, never ceases to amaze us with his bright mind and talent for building intricate Lego sets. He’s loved by his teachers and admired by the girls at school. Thomas is proof that age is no barrier to leaving a lasting impression on those around you.

Amelia, also 5, is a force of nature. With her beautiful red hair and captivating blue eyes, she knows how to get what she wants. I’ve learned that the surest way to receive a hug or a kiss from her is by offering a sweet treat. She’s a spirited little girl who always keeps us on our toes.

Miles, also 5 years old, and I share a special bond. We spend our time together telling jokes and watching cooking shows on the food network. On a vacation up north, Miles even wanted to try a sip of beer and taste a cigar out of curiosity. He’s a talented young man and a natural leader, even at such a young age.

Penelope, at 4, is a sweet and soft-spoken little girl. She possesses a remarkable intelligence and a loving nature. Despite her small stature, I affectionately refer to her as “olive oil” for her gentle and tender demeanor.

Sianaa, our 2-year-old bundle of joy, is lovingly known as “SISI BUN” in our family. She may be small, but her heart is as big as can be. She fills our lives with her gentle presence and brings us immeasurable happiness.

And then there’s Grace, 20 months old, whom we fondly call “Miss Busy Body.” She’s a whirlwind of energy, always on the move and exploring the world around her. At such a young age, she’s already showing signs of intelligence and starting to speak. We can’t wait to see what she accomplishes as she grows older.

Thinking about being away from these precious children is incredibly difficult. They are the air that I breathe, and I will hurt from the absence of their daily presence in my life. However, I am determined to be with them in spirit and prayers every single day. I recently gave Sarina and Aubrey each a rosary from my retreat, and Sarina sent me a picture of it placed at the corner of her bed. She said:

“Papa, it’s right next to me so I can think about you daily.”

Her words warmed my heart to know that our bond and connection transcend physical distance.

Although I won’t be physically present, I’ve made it a point to share text memos with them, hoping to enhance their thinking and provide them with guidance even from afar. They are my inspiration to grow and overcome the challenges that lie ahead.

In times of crisis, it’s essential to find strength and embrace growth. We may not always see a way forward, but I firmly believe that God has a plan for each and every one of us. It is through adversity that we discover our inner resilience and capacity for personal development.

As I embark on this journey, I invite you, dear reader, to reflect on your own challenges and crises:

  • How can you find the strength to grow and reconcile with the circumstances life has presented you?

Take a cue from these precious grandchildren of mine, who face their own trials and tribulations with grace and determination.

Remember, the path to personal growth is not always easy, but it is always worth it. Embrace the lessons that adversity brings and let them shape you into a stronger, more compassionate individual. Together, let us navigate life’s challenges with resilience and emerge on the other side, transformed by our experiences.

Stay tuned for more updates on my journey of reconciliation and personal growth.

With hope and determination, I will continue working to prove worthy of the support I receive.


John Dalaly