By Penny Showalter
On October 12, 2009, Don, my beloved husband, died.
His death wasn’t dramatic – we talked one last time and then he was gone. That was atypical for Don, a man whose life was a collection of passions.
On October 12, 2013, I am still in love with Don and miss him every day, but things have changed. I am also deeply in love with Allan, who became my husband just over two years ago.
Now we both miss Don, and we’re not the only ones.
Eighteen years ago, Don and I took our granddaughters Jennifer and Sarah, skiing with us so Don could teach them to ski as he had his daughters Gwen and Kelly.
Even now, my heart fills as I recall how Don, an accomplished skier whose runs made people stop in their tracks to stare at this 6’5” figure streaking downhill over the roughest terrains, patiently and gently led his girls down the slopes for the first time.
While the entire trip was wonderful, the event that stands out in my memory is Don’s knee injury, sustained in his effort to prevent Jennifer from falling, that forced him to stay in bed the next day, which, in turn, led to Jennifer and Sarah’s decision that a tea party was the most efficacious means by which to heal Grandpa’s knee and elevate his spirits.
That’s the kind of guy Don was, and that’s why he is still part of their lives as these little girls have become beautiful, compassionate, competent women. Sarah and Jennifer both work at UNC, taking care of others. I am so proud of them, and I know Don is, too.
And, I know that Don will be a part of Jennifer’s wedding in three weeks, present in the minds, memories, and hearts of those who knew and loved him.
That’s how I remember Don – passionate about his work, his play, and, most of all, his family.