Thursday, February 14, 2008

Remembering Donna by Holly Robertson

I met Donna in 1982 in an English class in Wescoe Hall at K.U. Neither of us really liked the professor as we studied the "shoat storeh". Donna scribbled that on a piece of paper and it made me laugh. That little scrap made it into my scrapbook and it's still there today. We were an unlikely pair, she a 34 year-old mother of four and me an 18 year-old coed. But something clicked with us and we became fast friends. We went through the School of Education together, started teaching and our career paths took different turns, until in the last two years we both returned to public schools. We were both thrilled to be back in a school again. We talked about how we just loved schools - the kids, the course of the year, celebrating the holidays, bulletin boards, the smell of the hallways, and the summers in between.

During the last 20 years Donna and I would meet every few months, since she lived in Vinland and I lived in Topeka. We usually met in Lawrence, would have lunch at one of our favorite restaurants and then usually stop in at Stitch-On, our favorite shop. We always found some little treasure there. We loved to look at the fabrics and the cross-stitch patterns. Sometimes we'd walk around downtown for awhile and many times we'd stop for ice cream somewhere. Then there would always be a hug goodbye and we knew there would be another time we'd see each other soon when we could catch up yet again.

Once in awhile we met in Overbrook at a little shop we'd discovered there. We'd browse for awhile and then go to a little bar on Main Street and have a Diet Pepsi. Our last get-together was in the fall. The shop is in an old Victorian house. It has two floors and there was always a little discussion as to whether Donna would go upstairs or not. Her knees were bothering her and she wasn't always up to it. We'd joke a little bit about it, she'd ask me to give her a piggy back ride up there or make me go first so she wouldn't fall on me in the event that she'd slip! On that trip upstairs we spied a wonderful stuffed rabbit dressed as a little man complete with shirt, tie, woolen jacket, and pocket watch. She picked him up first and we both cooed over him.

We both wanted him, but since she picked him up first she got him. She convinced me to get the woman rabbit even though she wasn't nearly as cute. I decided I would snip her clothes off her and transgender her into a man rabbit. At Christmas I received a box in the mail from her. It was a surprise as we didn't regularly exchange gifts. Once in awhile we would surprise each other with something we'd seen that made us think of each other. I was so curious as I tore away the wrappings - I couldn't imagine what she might be sending me. Imagine my surprise as I opened the box and found the little man rabbit! I was overjoyed and at the same time dismayed because I knew how much she loved him. I called her right away and screamed with delight. I told her I'd consider him on-loan while I just copied his clothing. I had already bought the fabric for the jacket and ordered a pocket watch on-line. But she insisted I keep him. She said she had tried him in various spots around the house and he just didn't seem to fit anywhere. I don't know if I believed her because it certainly seemed like the sort of thing that would fit at her house somewhere. Maybe it was her plan to give him to me all along.

I just can't tell you what a huge hole there is in my heart that she's gone. She was truly one of my dearest friends and I can't believe we're not going to have our Lawrence get-togethers anymore. I told her things that I have not told another soul on this earth. Donna's been my wise counsel and friend through so many life changes. Through the years we shared laughter and tears. I loved her wit and wisdom, her intellect, and her kind and gentle nature. I loved hearing about her family, pets, school, and other friends. My solace is that someday I'll get to see her again and we'll talk for hours in one of heaven's gardens.

Holly Robertson

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