Thursday, July 25, 2024

Loss a reminder not to wait for tomorrow

| August 9, 2023 1:00 AM

Two weeks ago, I was reminded of the importance of listening to promptings. July was very full in my world with visiting family, three weekend parades (two to announce, one to appear in) and more company arriving at the end of the month. I’d been thinking about my dear friend of many years, Don Sausser. He and a couple of his old buddies had met for decades at Hudson’s Hamburgers every Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m. Every month or so, I’d pop in to listen to their stories and eat a hamburger for breakfast.

The prompting to see Don and give him a hug was particularly strong July 23, so I vowed to go see the guys on Wednesday morning and included it on my calendar. On Tuesday afternoon, after I filed my column, I saw a post on Facebook by the Mica Grange with the news that their longtime member Don had passed away July 23.

I was stunned and sad and terribly regretful that I hadn’t picked up the phone the week before to talk to my friend.

The next morning I walked in the door of Hudson’s at 9:30 a.m. and Don’s buddy Roger Torgerson was already there. He’d ordered a hamburger, coffee and a slice of lemon meringue pie that was placed in Don’s regular spot at the counter, a heartbreaking tableau. Roger and I held an impromptu wake for our friend while we ate cheeseburgers for breakfast and told stories about Don.

Don was not only a gentleman with one of the kindest most generous hearts ever, he was an interesting Renaissance man of many talents and interests. One of his great gifts was of bringing people together. Through Don, I became friends with two centenarians, Betty Owens and Ace Walden, both of whom were Don’s neighbors at Lake Tower Apartments.

Here’s a story about Don I've not shared before. In December 2020, toward the end of that most awful first year of the pandemic, Don called me with a request. He said he wanted to do something different with his Christmas charitable giving. He asked if I knew of anyone in need who could be uplifted with a gift of $1,000. When I said I’d give that some thought and call back, he said that he didn’t need to know who I selected and they didn’t need to know where the money had come from. Don asked me to join him for a Huddie burger the next Wednesday and he’d have the money for me.

Without giving details, I talked to people I knew to see if anyone knew someone who was really struggling financially. I learned of a young mother of two small children whose husband had walked out on them a few months before. The mother was working, but barely making ends meet when her car broke down. I knew this was exactly the kind of uplifting Don was hoping for. When I arranged to meet with the young woman, I told her only that a friend of mine wanted to give her a Christmas gift. The look on her face when she saw the 10 $100 bills in the envelope was of awe and gratitude.

I’d really struggled emotionally through the pandemic, and as I drove home, I had to smile. My intuitive and wonderful friend Don had given both me and the young mother a true Christmas gift, reminiscent of scenes from my favorite movie, "It’s a Wonderful Life."

Don Sausser had a most wonderful life and in all of the ways that matter, he was the richest man in town. He’s missed and remembered by the legions of people whose lives he impacted for the good in his 88 years on this earth. How blessed we were to know him.

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Happy Birthday today to Anne Anderson, Terry Morris, Jack Havens, Kyle Patterson and Christian Strailman. Tomorrow, Jeff Grundon, Caryl Johnston, Sydney Sales, Jeremy Morris, Chelsea Cordova, Bonita Koontz, Tim Symons and John Hammon mark the anniversary of their birth. Jennifer Jaeger-Darakjy, Ann Seddon, Phyllis Berry, Erin Valente, Lisa Bell and Edith Uhl pop the cork to celebrate Friday. On Saturday, Joe Paisley, Stacey Berger, Jennifer Pitts, Ed Collins, Claudia Hurt, Deena Krobath, Roger Saterfiel, Ronda Nash, Mariah Silva, Julie Hunt, Jennifer James and Nevaeh Witherspoon blow out the candles. George Gee, Mike Laverdure, Tery Garras, Michelle Coppess, Donna Flom and Bryan DeKeles (30!) are putting on their party hats Sunday. Bob Sandau, Erin Elliott, Elaine Damschen, Lisa Hutcheson, Peter Faletto, Erin Reasor, Melinda Engel, Marla Lewis, Kevin Flaa, Annette Nolting, Melinda Frost and Gene Mann celebrate Monday. MarcAllert, Tracy Christopherson, Wayne Longo (70!), Rick Currie, Mary Richter, Anne Couser and Thomas Sorci take another trip around the sun Aug. 15.

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Kerri Rankin Thoreson is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the former publisher of the Post Falls Tribune. Main Street appears every Wednesday in The Press and Kerri can be contacted on Facebook or via email Follow her on Twitter @kerrithoreson.