I was one of the speakers and this is what I said:
34 years ago, Don came into my life when I was 13 years old. Not a good age for either one of us. But because he was DON and so laid back- he was the perfect person to be in my life. He said “ Baby – you don’t have to like me , we don’t have to be friends, you just need to mind your momma and respect me in my own home”. With arms crossed and rolling my eyes, I secretly knew I was going to like him A LOT!! . I was always HolliAnn to him. Jeremy was always the Boy.
I looked forward to our Friday night music nights. He had hundreds of albums – rock and mostly country. We would take turns getting to listen to any song we wanted (Jeremy had his own Dukes of hazard album and so we listened to the whole thing ). We would push back all the furniture and he taught me to Texas two –step and Cotton eyed Joe. At first, I was staying with my cousin during the week finishing up my school year and he made me a cassette tape of songs that I liked to listen to on my tape recorder. It gave me comfort every night and I would play it every night. Silly songs that I cant think of but didn’t get radio play. They come from the B sides of albums. And cassettes- Oh the hundreds of mixed tape cassettes.
Don’s love for music was what connected us and a little known fact that some of yall may or may not know-Don recorded a single and sent to Nashville. His style of music included a lot of Waylon Jennings, hank Jr, merle haggard, Conway, and other classics. . Don took mom and I to Billy Bobs to see Waylon and his wife Jessi Colter in 1986. We had so much fun.
Don was a driver for several of his years on the Fire department and he always drove fast like going to a fire. We did lots of fun family things like the end of Chisholm trail party in stockyards, fire vs police hose offs, etc.
When I was in college and we were stranded due to ice days, he wouldn't hesitate to go get my friend or to drop me off. He’s the parent that was stuck with me during my driving lesson days in Wal-Mart parking lot.
Don was a smoker for most all of his life, and like water off a duck- he didn’t think twice about the fact that he fell asleep with cigarette and the bed caught on fire and the Irving fire department had to come to his house to put out the fire.
When they moved to Wyoming while I was in college, I spent my holiday break with them. Their first year, Don and I rented a snow mobile and went up a mountain to chop down our Christmas tree. Mom stayed at the lodge with Jeremy. We were zipping right along and I was sitting behind him when we went off the path and turned over. We had been going so fast, it took a minute for us both to realize we were on our sides and not moving anymore. I laugh so much still thinking about that time.
Don would be our calming voice. He was sometimes too laid back and you would get aggravated that he wasn’t as upset as he should be or that you wanted him to be. He was the peace maker and my ally when I had typical teenage girl angst with my mom. Every Thursday we were supposed to check in with each other, and many times Don would be the one to call me and tell me that he loved me and to just focus on my school work and my dances. I had dance scholarship in college and he was so proud when I was dancing in Macy’s parade– he told everyone. I know that he loved me and was proud of me. As Sarah mentioned, the love between Don and Jeremy is immeasurable. I am so Blessed to have witnessed the love of them together and that he raised my brother to be the kind loving man he is today like Don was.
I’m married now and have 2 stepkids of my own- My lesson to them- You don’t have to like me, we don’t have to be friends- just respect me in my own home and mind your daddy. I had an amazing role model and I pray that I continue his legacy of unconditional love.
The chaplain for Irving Fire Department and a color guard member from Irving Fire Department both who served and worked with Don came to the service . They did the traditional salute and gave a flag to my brother. All the kids were also presented with a special coin that represents "once a firefighter- always a firefighter" . It was such an honor to receive it.
There are going to be songs I hear, times I remember Don that will make me sad but it was also a part of the closure process to have the service. Don's wishes were to be cremated and Jeremy is going to spread his ashes in some of their favorite spots in Wyoming this summer. I absolutely love that plan for them! Rest in peace my sweet sweet stepdad. I love you so much.
So I pray that this week is a little better than last.