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Hancock / Peterborough

Father’s death leaves family in need

Girl Scouts holding spaghetti supper fundraiser on Oct. 5 in church vestry

PETERBOROUGH — Heather Acorn says her husband, Daniel, seemed in perfect health when he turned in at about 10 p.m. on Aug. 22.

“He’d been jogging that morning, he went to work, went to bed at his usual time. Nothing was different,” Acorn said last week. But in the middle of the night, after Acorn had checked on her children and gone to bed in their Prescott Hill apartment, something went wrong.

“Daniel sat up real quick and started breathing heavily,” Acorn said. “I thought it was just a bad dream. I had him put his head in his lap and then he just fell to the floor. His eyes were wide open, staring. I called 911 and started CPR but he didn’t respond.”

Rescue workers arrived quickly, Acorn said, and they took her husband to Monadnock Community Hospital. But he never regained consciousness. Daniel had just turned 35, and his death suddenly left the 32-year-old Acorn completely responsible for their five children, who range in age from 7 to 17 and all attend schools in Peterborough.

“Daniel had been working at True Blue cleaners, but only for a few months,” Acorn said. “He was also caring for the kids. We kind of took turns. We made it work.”

Acorn works as a nail technician at Fashion Nails in Peterborough, but she was out of work for almost two months after having emergency surgery after a tooth became infected in February.

“I got real sick and ended up in the hospital in Lebanon. I was on steroids and tons and tons of antibiotics,” she said. And while she was out of work, Daniel’s mother had a severe heart attack. So after Acorn left the hospital, her mother-in-law moved in with the family for about a month, with visiting nurses coming and going.

Acorn’s back on the job now, but she is only able to work about four hours a day. Meanwhile, she’s trying to balance work with the challenges of caring for Kristen, 17, Cody, 13, Brittany, 12, Idaysha, 9, and 7-year-old Nariyah.

“Thank God for our 17-year-old. She’s been wonderful,” Acorn said. “I’m really trying to keep them as busy as possible. It’s kind of nice that school was starting. It’s given us something to do.”

Last year, Acorn helped to lead Hancock’s Girl Scout Troop 20946, where two of her daughters were members. Her health issues led her to scale back her leadership role in February, but two other troop leaders, Siobhan Charron and Angie Ramsden, both from Hancock, are putting together a spaghetti supper to benefit the Acorn family.

“Basically, they had no life insurance,” Charron said last week. “Daniel hadn’t worked long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits. Heather and I grew up together. She’s always been someone who helps others. She organized a benefit a couple of years ago to help Luke Mosher, a ConVal football player who had cancer. Now she’s the one who needs help.”

The supper will be held in the Hancock Vestry on Oct. 5, from 5 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for children. Charron said Girl Scouts will be making desserts and doing the setup and service for the event.

“Bills don’t pay themselves, unfortunately,” Charron said. “We hope to raise some money for the holidays for her. At least right now, we want her to be able to focus on healing and making sure her kids are OK.”

Acorn said the outpouring of support she’s received has been heartwarming.

“I love this community,” she said. “Friends have been just amazing. People at the schools have been so nice. People I’ve never met are sending cards. Everyone is pulling together. I felt bad about needing help, but people say, ‘You’ve done it for others. Don’t feel guilty.’ I think everybody here wants to help in times of need.”

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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