Who was Don? Who was this man who lived his life on Earth among us? Every single soul has a story to tell. The unique story of their big, beautiful life and how that story keeps going on and on, connecting, moving, surging, as sure as the tide. That Force. That Being. That Soul, to be simply "Gone" is incomprehensible.
Don was born in Brooklyn and was raised in the hardscrabble streets. His father died when he was in his teens, leaving him to care for his mother. A Brooklyn boy knowing what it means to step up and take responsibility.
Don was a son.
After Don graduated from high school, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve and enrolled in City College in NYC where he earned his Associates degree in Engineering. He then went on to active duty in the Navy, where he served his country for two years in the Korean War.
Don was a scholar and a soldier.
After Don left the Navy, he moved to Ohio and enrolled in OH University. While at his first dance, he saw a very tall, very beautiful dark haired girl. He didn't care if she was taller than he was. He had RED hair, which always got attention from the girls. When he saw her walking across the dance floor, he grabbed her hand and said, "We should dance if we are going to get married".
Don married his dark haired beauty right after graduation and remained married for the next 57 years.
The life Don and his bride Cherry shared, produced a son, Mark. I've asked Mark and Tammy, Marks wife, their children Aubrey and Beatrice, to write something about this incredible man. Below are their words:
My Father in law and I fought like cats and dogs the whole 23 years I knew him. We may be the same person. Stubborn, loud, fragile. We fought and loved and fought and loved. When I married Mark, Don wanted to put me in his clan and become my leader. I was (am) bossy. He called me and wrote to me nearly every day. He bought me ridiculously expensive presents. I think he liked the challenge. We argued about politics and once when he told the girls they would make good secretaries one day I thought I would kill him. He taught me about life. I taught him about people. We turned out to be a perfect match.
I was the first person that he told when he was diagnosed. Late in 2006 he thoughy he had bad allergies or a sinus infection. Really, he had a melanoma tumor that filled all available space in his sinuses. Doctors told him that he had three months to live. His was reply, "says who? "
"Science and Melanoma", came the reply. Very quietly Don's reply was, "Melanoma has never met Don Bidwell, and Melanoma can go to hell".
When the cancer came back last April, I think we all knew...he and I spent the last 7 months together planning for the end of his life. Surgery...again 3 months. He told me he had very few regrets and the one he did have he could remember. He wanted me to know that people were more important than anything. He kept telling me to love. He was true to himself right up until he died. Trying to make the girls smile. To make a funny. About a week before he died, (he was in a hospice facility), as soon as we arrived he asked Audrey to go ask for his pain med. Audrey returned with a vial and gave it to him. He declared that it was empty and that he received not a drop of medicine. In comes the nurse. He tells her I absolutely need another vial. I did not get any medicine. The nurse mumbled something about calling the doctor to which Don replied, bring me the vial. Again the nurse was mumbling about too much medication, about calling the doctor first and overdosing. I could see the girls squirming. THEN I saw the glint in his eye and he says, so what will happen? Do you think it might KILL me? He got the medicine. ~ Tammy