Posted by: donrhymer | January 10, 2013

Battle Scars and Dodger Dogs

Don & Molly

Several months back my dad took me to a Dodger game.  We sat in the dugout club and talked about life between bites of our Dodger dogs.  (Did I mention we are both gluten intolerant?)  Kershaw was pitching.  He asked about my  job and friends. He asked what I’d heard from Andrew & Carrie lately. He asked about my dating life.  Strike.

Then he told me about a book he was reading, a book that meant a great deal to him at the time.  “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green about Hazel, a sixteen year old cancer patient who had eery similarities to my father (disease wise mind you, although I’m sure he and a sixteen year old girl had more in common than he’d like us to know).  Both had cancer which had metastasized to the lung, spent 6 days in the ICU, both had 1.5 liters of fluid drained from the lung.  Both didn’t want to “wound” anyone in their battle. Hazel refers to her cancer as a grenade.  She says, “I’m like a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties”.

My dad’s greatest sadness was how much pain he caused his family. That his disease was our disease.  His pain was ours and he wanted to minimize his casualties.  He feared that when it all blew up, when it went to chaos, everyone around him would be left with embedded shrapnel.

And we are left with that in a sense. He left bits and pieces of himself to so many people. Bits of bullet in all of us. My brother emits his perfect balance of kindness and strength.  My sweet sister, a true daddy’s girl at heart has his quick wit.  Me, I encompass his “socially awkward while being extremely social” side, and my mom, at the heart of us all, is his rock.  That woman is solid gold I tell you. He touched so many lives.  His service on Monday, December 3rd was a demonstration of that.  Everyone showed up, even his hair stylist (and what a feat because he would be the first to tell you he had very little hair).  As Andrew said in a previous post, it was a whirlwind of a day but I did take a moment and think, “Damn, I am so proud to be his daughter and to have fought his battle along side him.”

The headline in the local paper the week after his death read, “Don Rhymer Loses Battle to Cancer”. Boy did that piss us off over here.  This was a hell of a battle all right,  but this battle was not lost.  We are still fighting over here thank you very much. We learn from the best; my dad taught us well.

And as we march on, we are still in awe over the outpour of love and postcards we receive.  We love hearing how he has affected your lives.  But for now, there’s peace.  No explosions, no grenades.  And like we told him that Wednesday, “You can sleep now, Papa”.




  1. It’s funny Molly, I’m surprised how often something Don said to me pops up in my daily life. He was one of those friends who never pulled punches. And I always knew he cared. I carry a lot of Don’s words into my daily life. Much of what your mom and dad taught us about raising kids is still played out in our home.

    I truly hate that he’s gone. There have been times where I think of things and want to shoot off a quick email or text to Don. It’s an empty feeling.

    But I’m so gratefull for the 20 years I knew him. We all are.

  2. And I thought you might be the “non-writer” in the family. Not so! Thank you for sharing this with all of us, Molly. You are truly amazing. I am so very very proud to be your auntie. xo Celeste

  3. Really lovely Moll– truly, he’d be so proud of you and your family’s win, not loss — as gracious a victory as could be possible… B.

  4. beautiful, beautiful, beautiful… good and so true….

  5. Love the “socially awkward while being extremely social” – same here. I like to say I love large groups from a distance. Rest assured your dad still brings a smile to the faces of those he met.

  6. Molly girl, that was brilliant and beautiful. My heart swells with love for all the Rhymers and I am reminded how blessed I was to have your dad in my life.

  7. As one of the co-founders of Stand Up to Cancer, I wanted to thank you and your family for telling all your readers about your Dad’s support of our initiative – knowing that he believed in what we are doing makes us all even MORE committed – if that’s even possible. My mother is a 90 year old lymphoma survivor, all my co-founders have lost one of more people very close to them, and one of my co-founders passed away 19 months ago after battling breast cancer for seven years. We are all in the fight together. Thank you again.

  8. As I told Kelly, not too many people leave this world having touched so many lives like your father did. He left a fabulous legacy in his family and thru his writing.

  9. Molly — I’m so glad you and Andrew have used your Dad’s blog to share your thoughts about him. It helps keep us all feeling close to him and to your whole family. Having gone through a similar experience in my family, I agree with you that the “Lost Battle” analogy is an inaccurate and annoying one. You, Andrew, Carrie, and your Mom are continuing to fight and win the battle every day you remember your Dad and carry on his spirit the way you have here. I know he’s proud and beaming right now. Love to you all and a happy 2013!

  10. It is such fun to open my inbox and find a post on this blog and so much more fun to read it and to hear your dad’s voice in your words, but also to hear yours. I had an awkward moment this week myself. I ordered a martini someplace and the gin was local and good (For Andrew’s benefit, Crater Lake Gin). These days I order my martinis with a twist. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and took a picture of it and composed a text and realized I don’t have his number in heaven…

    Lucky for me I have you guys, and this. I think you’re all so amazing. (even though you kept me up past midnight on New Year’s Eve).

    Please be bold about expressing these thoughts when you have them! The memories are so good for us all.

  11. Molly,
    Thanks for letting us be a part of this amazing Rhymer family journey! You are all so amazingly gifted and talented in your own way and I am truly blessed to know you all. Here’s to more memories along the way….

  12. Beautiful piece, Molly. You are an incredible writer – your post made me feel a great deal. We are thinking A LOT of you and your family. Love, Sue Fuelling

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