Posted by: donrhymer | January 29, 2013

The Lucky One


After my brother’s memorial service, one of his dear friends hugged me and said “and then there was one”. It’s true. Of the family of four that I grew up with, I am the only one still here on earth. My parents passed away within five weeks of one another. And now I have lost Don. It is unfathomable.

In the summer of 2010, Don was enduring chemotherapy and radiation. My mother passed away in late June and my father passed away in late July. Don flew from Los Angeles to Union for the services, but he looked very different the second trip; thinner, his neck burned and swollen. I cannot imagine what it must have been like on a crowded plane for 5 hours, feeling as horrible as he did. As usual, he never complained, always persevered. The next two years we would waver between good and bad news. “We got it! Oh, but it popped up here. Everything is shrinking! But oh wait, it’s on your lungs.” He would always tell you the news, then say “but don’t worry, it will be fine!” So many times I would tell my friends that I could not lose Don. He was not going anywhere! Until one day, I did lose him.

Don and I shared the JOYS of cancer. As a breast cancer survivor, I could relate to his stories of drains and IVs. He would text me after one of my many surgeries with simple words: I’m so sorry. He would try to make me laugh and I would do the same for him. The last time Don and I were together was this past summer at Wild Dunes. We sat at dinner one night and I listened to Don tell a story about the summer between high school and college; I had never heard the story before. I remember wondering how many more stories he had that I had missed over the years and I couldn’t wait to hear more! I will have to wait now, along with the rest of the world who could not wait for the next blog, the next movie, the next script, the next night of just hanging out with him. I miss his stories, I miss him making me laugh. I miss his voice on the phone, his texts, his jokes, his advice. I miss him so very much.

I had 49 years of memories with Don. Playing as kids, fighting as teenagers, laughing as adults, holding hands at our parents’ funerals. So yes, then there was one. I have my father’s wit, my mother’s temper, and my brother’s desire to always make others happy, comfortable and loved. What a blessing he was in my life. For that, I am the lucky “one”!




  1. Once again, the Rhymer family amazes me! Thank you dear friend for putting things into place and showing me whats important, Family. I’m honored to call myself a friend and part of the family. I think of him often. Sending hugs to Cali.

  2. The Rhymer ‘fightin’ gene’ runs deep ! I didn’t know your brother very well or for very long – but I did see him almost every day for a few years (I had an office next to his in Old Pasadena) – and the guy really made an impact on me. Thanks for sharing – and posting the photo. He looks like he might be pulling your hair… that’s what brothers do.

  3. My heart goes out to you, Kelly. I lost the oldest of my 4 brothers (named Donald Eugene, oddly enough) to cancer when he was 50 and I was 29. I’m sure you know that Don is so very proud of you. I know he’s smiling as he reads your post. And please know that you remain in our prayers every day.

  4. Once again you amaze me and make me proud to call you family! Just know that the “one” is now part of a new “four” and family and life continues it’s cycles. I’m sure Don is smiling down on you.

  5. What a lovely and poignant post and photo, Kelly. How disorienting it must be to have lost both parents and now Don. Know that you are loved by all here in southern California. We, too, are “lucky ones” to have known your sweet brother!

  6. Kelly it is so true that you have your own group of Four to comfort you and for you to comfort and grow memories with. You and Keith and the girls seem so happy and complete together. Hold your memories of Don close…You will always have them and may be surprised how often they’ll pop up. Know then that he is with you still.

  7. Well now you’ve gone and made me cry. I feel you pain, you love, your grief, your loss and your pride in your brother. I’m so glad you all had that time at Wild Dunes. It’s a memory you will hold forever. Yes, you may be the only surviving Rhymer but you have a host of family and friends who love you dearly. You are strong, my friend, and I admire you greatly.

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