maxomai: dog (dog)
maxomai ([personal profile] maxomai) wrote2016-04-29 07:16 am

On the passing of Don Dodson

Long time readers of this LJ will recall that [ profile] dondodson and I used to argue with each other on this page and his. Despite our disagreements, I considered him a friend, and a valuable one, because he taught me a point of view that was completely alien to me --- that is, that of a hard-nosed Southern Baptist theoconservative and partisan Republican --- having grown up in a nominally Roman Catholic, partisan Democratic family in Chicago.

It pains me to report that last week his wife Hua let it be known that Don took his own life on April 19th.

Don and I started arguing from the day we met at Shreve Hall at Purdue University. We argued, respectfully but sometimes heatedly, about everything from religion to politics to changes in society and culture. We argued via signs on our dorm room doors, then over email, then over LiveJournal, then over FaceBook. I won’t rehash those arguments in this post, except to stat that there are only three things upon which we strongly agreed. The first and least important is that we both despised the darkly comical horror show that is Donald Trump's run for President. The second is the importance of the Second Amendment for the strength of the Republic. The third and most important is that he found a magnificent and capable partner in Hua.

I do have memories to share here, and they go to that third point of agreement.

By twenty-two years ago, meaning the first half of 1994, Don had already graduated college and had moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to start his career. Hua was still finishing her degree at Purdue, and the distance between them was clearly painful to him. On Valentine’s Day of that year he asked me whether I could do him a favor, that is, to print out a letter to Hua that he would email me, and also pick up some flowers, and deliver both of them the printed email and the flowers to his future wife. Of course I agreed. He thanked me profusely, and wrote a letter to his future wife where he testified to his love in glowing, almost embarrassing terms. I picked up a dozen flowers at the local supermarket — I can’t remember what they were but I’d like to think they were roses — then printed out his letter to Hua in the computer labs, then (I think) put the letter in a card for Hua, and then delivered the lot to her at the residence hall where she worked as a counselor. (I believe it was, again, Shreve.)

Hua, of course, missed Don, and of course wanted to return the favor. So for his 22nd birthday, which was going to be April 9th of that year, she wanted to make a video tape of some of his college friends joking around. Hua was kind enough to invite me to participate, which I did gladly. It was April 3rd — I know the date well, and I’ll tell you later how I know that date. It was a Sunday, and I had just finished studying in the Union building when I started my hike to Shreve to participate in the video.

Now, remember, this is April we’re talking about. It's Spring, the campus is in full bloom, the pleasant weather makes it hard to concentrate on one’s studies, and life is grand. So naturally, when I left the Union building, it was surprisingly very cold. As I passed underneath the math building, which was about a third of the way on my journey, it started snowing. And snowing. And snowing. And snowing. And snowing. By the time I got to Shreve the snow was about two feet deep. Fortunately I had a biker jacket and combat boots and a healthy layer of fat to keep me warm. We made our video in an afternoon — I remember doing some improvised routine with a clown friend of his — and I presume it got to Don in time for his birthday.

The love they had was unmistakable then. It continues to be unmistakable today, even in his current and more profound absence that once again separates them but temporarily.

To Hua, and to hers and Don’s children, I hope that the his love and the memories of his love bring you peace in the coming years.