A Toast to Uncle Don

I didn’t have a grandpa nearby while growing up. I had my great-Uncle Don. My own grandparents had either already passed away or were living in another state, so when it came time for Grandparents Day at my elementary school, or ordering Friday night pizza for all of us, or listening to the Reds games over the radio while reading the paper, or doing all those things that grandpas do … that was my Uncle Don.

When Martin and I were planning our guests’ travel itineraries before our wedding in April 2002, I got a request from Uncle Don.

“All I want to do is drink a real German beer on a German mountain,” he said.

And he was committed to that. Before the trip, he took German language classes so he could order the beverage and chat with the locals, too. So we took him (and the group) up the tallest mountain in Germany, where he ordered a beer at the outdoor bar at the summit.

And then as he enjoyed his beer, he struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to him. Martin went over to chat, too, and as it turned out, that random man at the bar knew Martin’s father back when they were both competitive table-tennis players in Bavaria in the ’70s. The three men chatted together, enjoying their beer and the beautiful Alps.

My Uncle Don passed away at the age of 81 on April 19 back in Northern Kentucky. My heart is heavy for all of us who are going to miss him, but I’m grateful for all the love and memories with him.

We are raising a toast in Don’s memory over here in Germany!