In Memoriam

In my very first blog post, I wrote about the only “freelance” writing project I had undertaken since retirement, an obituary for our next-door neighbor. At the time I told him that I hoped it would be a very long time before it was needed. Sadly, less than two years later, it appeared in the Rio Grande Valley and Austin papers this past week.

His death was rather sudden and happened under unusual circumstances, but those of us who cared about him agreed he died in his own way and under his own terms. Given the state of his health, he would have had a miserable, and possibly slow, decline. He literally escaped, ran away from the care facility and his body was found by his son a couple of days later. We all just hope he died quickly and didn’t suffer.

He was one of the most generous people I’ve ever known. Once when I was in Florida visiting my mother my husband became ill. I got a flight back to Austin that arrived at midnight; Don picked me up at the airport. Everyone in our complex has a similar story: a cat rescued from imprisonment in the garage of an unoccupied house due to a careless real estate agent; his willingness to lend tools; his friendliness to everyone. He was truly one of a kind. As his closest next-door neighbors, we saw him walk past our patio every day, and it’ll be a long time before I stop expecting to see him go by.

His funeral was today. As a former state representative and a Mason, he was honored with considerable ritual and pageantry. (One of the coolest parts was riding in a police-escorted motorcade from the funeral to the Texas State Cemetery, stopping traffic even on Interstate 35. The last time I should have been in a funeral procession was when my husband’s grandfather died. For some reason his mother was not included in the family’s limo and ended up riding with me—my husband  was a pall bearer. We got separated from the procession and neither of us knew how to get to the cemetery. To this day I have no idea how we ultimately found it—it was in Arlington, TX, which I don’t know at all.)

Don’s interment, in a beautiful site in a revered cemetery, with the Masons in their aprons and uniformed Texas troopers folding the flag, was impressive.

I have no deep, profound observations about death or dying to make in this post, other than the usual one that as we get older we seem to go to more funerals. For my poor husband this how he spent two Saturdays in a row, and he just learned another old school friend died. Along with Neil Armstrong’s death, it’s been a tough week.

Don asked that contributions be made in his memory to his Shrine’s transportation fund for sick children, so I finally got to return the money he paid me to write his obit despite my objections. He can’t know, and that’s ok.

He was definitely one of a kind, and I hope to include some “Don stories” in our condo newsletter.

Bless him, and bless us all, and let’s just love each other.

Don and his beautiful love, Kathy.

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One response to “In Memoriam”

  1. Lisa says :

    Beautiful Memorial Blog for Our Dear Neighbor at LaChenay! What a Special Man, Whom I was Fortunate to Know. His Dedication to Our State of TX, Work and Support to Our Community and Respect is Greatly Appreciated. Blessings to Kathy and All of His Friends, and Beautiful Family!

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