Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Uncle Don Died Tuesday 11/7/08

My Uncle Don Died Tuesday 

My uncle Don died Tuesday. It seems a little strange at 66 years old to be talking about my uncle, but there it is. He was the last sibling of my father, the last Simmons of that generation, and aunt Louise is now the "last man standing".

When I think of Don, I see a big, blond, mountain of a man. At least he seemed that way to me as I visited him and Louise in Utah from time to time as a child. My first trip was on the Greyhound bus wearing my Cub Scout uniform because my dad said people would take care of me if I was dressed that way; and they did.

I remember the white dog with the brown spots, the sabers, the cherry tree branch that broke because me, John, and Larry were all sitting on it, picking cherries and didn't consider the strain of that one branch. I remember shooting firecrackers wrapped in mud with a slingshot over the street and irrigation ditch toward the old stone church the night of the 4th of July. I remember Don trying to teach me to water ski on Flathead Lake, shoot the 22 in the back pasture, and play the potato. I remember the nights laying on the grass, watching the stars and listening to his stories; watching Louise walking on his back to relieve pain; and watching him pick up concrete blocks like they were donuts. I remember hand-cranked ice cream and him eating a mixing bowl of it. I remember listening to his stories about he and my dad, about his time in the service, and about his family.

I remember a lot about Don, but the thing I remember the most is how he loved his family. He teased, he taught, and he loved. When the teasing got too much Louise would get on him and he'd chuckle. Oh how he loved him family. He also loved working in the Temple. He told me many times how much he enjoyed the people on his crew and his time working there. Now I am (was) a temple worker and he is not. What irony.

I remember Don as a good man. A real man. A really good man. He was a child in a man's body and he loved life. I never felt that he had any other interest but me when I was with him. He had a joy for life and found pleasure in even the small things. I have never met anyone who could be as excited about so little. He is just fun to be around.

Thank you Uncle Don for trying to help those Simmons boys get back into the church. Thank you for your efforts with my dad. He was a hard nut. Thank you for your example of never giving up. Thank you for our love for me and my family. I know you are still there, but I will be a little sad knowing that Louise is alone now (except for her kids, etc.) and you are not physically there at the other end of the phone when I can call. Give my love to Grampa and Gramdma Simmons and keep working on my dad. He's a good person who just lost his way.

Thank you Don. I love you. I don't know why I am crying. I know you are now free of that limiting body, to do anything you want to do. I am happy for you in that condition. It is just sad, knowing that you aren't there anymore. You have gone on another assignment in another place. I hope you can come and visit some time. I'd like that, and I could use some of your humor right now.

Elder R Douglas Simmons,
Russia, Novosibirsk Mission
Financial Secretary


Trisha said...

I love it. I cried too. In just the few times I was with him I could feel that same feeling of love. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

Emily said...

((Doug)) I don't know you well and I didn't know your uncle at all but I was touched by your post. I'm sorry for your loss.

My sister lives in Laie, Hawaii and there is a beach there across from the temple dedicated to 'a place of quiet reflection'. We had just this week started a project of writing names in the sand for children that have died. I asked her to write Don's name for you. She posted the photo on our blog at

I hope today is a gentle day for you and your family. peace- emily

Shannon Simmons said...

First off, thank you Emily. That was a beautiful thing to do. I dont really know my dad's Uncle Don too well, but he is a special person & my dad loved him very much. Thank you for doing that.
Dad - I know I emailed you, but I too was touched by your blog. I miss him too & I dont know him well at all. I love you & pray for your heart to be comforted. Will you post moms email to the blog? I think people would like to read her thoughts too....