This week, I feel compelled to memorialize the death of one of the most important men in my life. A varying category from my usual topics, but related nonetheless.
Denis Ducharme, survived by a loving wife, two daughters, three sons, and scores of other friends and family who will miss him dearly, was lost to cancer on January 10, 2011. But the love and positivity he brought to this earth will surely survive for generations. May he be a lesson for us all.
“Hey gorgeous, how are ya?” was the guaranteed greeting when I walked into the Ducharme home. The smells of Linda’s cooking wafted toward the door, Roxy dog lounged on the couch, while Sheila, my best friend, sister, and hero watched the Patriots. These were some of my foundest and most important memories of high school. It may have been dark and chilling to the bone outside, but there was always enough warmth and love to go around.
Many an afternoon was also spent in their living room, Sheila and I attempting to do homework while watching the Pats as Denis drifted in and out, cracking jokes and lifting the mood (especially if we were losing).
Then there were our track meets. Denis and Linda were an ever present force on the sidelines screaming, “come on Shell!” as I passed by. It always gave me some extra spring in my step. Even if I lost, I knew they were still proud of me.
A story about Denis is not complete without mentioning his love for skydiving, a hobby of his that he did for pleasure and also at local events to raise money for various causes. It was often assumed if he was out on a weekend, that he was flying through the air and loving every minute of it.
Last spring, about five months after Denis was diagnosed with cancer, his family held a benefit for him in our town. I am not exaggerating when I say that hundreds of people came. I believe I heard it said that they ran out of tickets and people were still pouring in.
An Endless String
While I highlight some of the grossest abuses against women on this site, I also do my best to balance the blog and my life with positive energy. As Jon Stewart said in his show last night regarding the Arizona shootings, there will always be another tragedy that takes our breath away. There will always be those who threaten to destroy peace. And there will also be those who fight tirelessly for change, even if all they do is live with an open heart and extended hands.
And that is exactly what made Denis one of the best men I knew. He touched everyone he met by simply being himself. He welcomed anyone into his home with the jovial presence that was the core of his personality. He approached life with no reservations and greeted everyone with love and a sense of acceptance.
Denis, you left an indelible mark on my heart. May we all carry with us your positive energy and love; may we all make this world a better place by modeling your response to a world that continues to spin out of our control. May we touch everyone we meet with the same hand with which you touched us. You will be sorely missed but we all take a lesson from you and walk in your footsteps.