After many years of marriage, it’s hard to imagine anything more difficult than living without your spouse. When it happens all at once, it’s both shocking and tragic. But when the process is extended over a number of years, it’s torturous and can often leave the remaining spouse grasping out how to continue their life.
Babbette Jaquish passed away in 2014 at 66 years old, succumbing to a nearly decade-long battle against multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects plasma cells. However, because of the way her husband, Don, has chosen to honor her memory, she’ll be remembered by every person who drives along Wisconsin Highway 85.
After Babbette passed away, Don decided to plant four miles of sunflowers along the road to honor her memory.
The idea was originally Babbette’s. Five years into her nine-year battle with cancer, she wanted to find a way to help contribute to cancer research. Her plan was to plant sunflowers, then bag the seeds and sell them. The proceeds from the venture would go towards finding a cure for cancer.
But the idea was put to the side as her health deteriorated. Needing more and more treatment, the idea wouldn’t be revisited until she passed away four years later. About a month after she died, Don picked the idea up and ran with it.
“Let’s move forward with her idea as a tribute to her. Let’s sell them for wild bird food and carry through her dreams,” he told the family.
Don started Babbette’s Seeds of Hope as a way of fulfilling one of his late wife’s wishes, and as a memorial to his love for her.
“She always loved flowers, but sunflowers were her favorite,” Don told the local ABC affiliate. “It fit her personality. She’d walk into a room and her smile would light up the whole room.”
The venture, called Babbette’s Seeds of Hope, starts on property owned by Don, but then cuts through the land of five neighboring farms. He says his neighbors were happy to let him plant the sunflowers because of how well liked his wife was.
“They all loved her. There wasn’t anybody who met her that didn’t love her.”
A portion of the profits are donated to hospitals, research, and patient advocacy for cancer and other illnesses.
Even without knowing the message behind the 60-foot-wide strip of sunflowers, onlookers are always amazed by the sight alone.
“You move on and live each day,” Babbette wrote to Don in a letter he discovered after she passed away. “Feel me in the morning air, and when you wake up and make your coffee. I will be there always.”
For Don, the sunflowers help him feel like is wife is still with him, even if only in passing.
“What we had is as good as it gets,” he said.
Here is small drone clip of the sunflowers for those who are not able to come and see!
Posted by Babbette's Seeds of Hope on Thursday, August 13, 2015