We lost our pal Ed Dowejko in November at the youthful age of 70. He and my husband Burton were scheduled to be partners in a tournament that weekend.
Ed and Karen Dowejko were inseparable. If they needed a loaf of bread, Ed accompanied Karen to Publix. When they remodeled their house in Sarasota, they made decisions together. Karen is amazing with her hands, and Ed took full advantage of his wife’s skills. He delegated her to paint the house, and she did. When they decided on draperies, they consulted on the color. Ed supervised while Karen sewed. He held the ladder while Karen installed. As Karen puts it, “We were the Ed and Karen Show.”
The night Eddie died, Karen had cooked his favorite spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. He was watching a 50s movie on TV. Karen left the room to change into her nightgown. When she returned 10 minutes later, she thought her husband had fallen asleep. She couldn’t wake him.
The Dowejkos were from Rochester, NY, where Eddie founded an investment firm with daughter, Kristin. Wherever he was, Eddie prided himself on parsimony. He loved to report how much money he made parking cars on his lawn during a PGA tournament at Rochester’s renowned Oak Hill Country Club. The Dowejkos lived down the street and were members. On Saturday nights in Florida, he and Karen presided over a picnic table on the porch of the Old Packinghouse Cafe, a local dive. For Eddie, their burgers were as good as any prime Porterhouse; the local bands worthy of Carnegie Hall.
On the couple’s first visit to Sarasota, mutual friends Barb and Pete Mehnert, also from Rochester, took them to Siesta Key Beach. As they strolled barefoot in white sugar sand, several dolphins leapt out of the water. Those dolphins clinched the deal. Soon after, the Dowejkos bought a home in Sarasota. They walked the beach many times. Karen says, “Ed loved the feeling he had as we took our walks there.” Since Ed died, Karen finds the beach to be “very healing.”
College sweethearts, Karen and Ed would have celebrated their 47th anniversary in a month, 2 days before Christmas.
“He was my treasure,” Karen says.
After her husband died, Karen received some powerful Godsigns. Her good friend Kathy sent her a sympathy card. She had written a poem in the flyleaf. Karen couldn’t decipher every word, so she Googled the poem. “It brought me a profound peace I hadn’t yet experienced.” She printed it out so she could read it “whenever I need to remind myself I haven’t completely lost my soul mate.”
Later that day, Karen picked up a book sent by the mother of daughter Kristin’s partner, Deidre. “Spirit Speaks: Are You Listening?” by Vera Haldy-Regier and Valerie Croce Stiehl shares the teachings of spiritual intuitive Valerie Croce Stiehl. Val, Deidre’s mom, spent 10 years living with the Lakota Sioux in South Dakota. ( She now lives in Woodstock, NY, where she conducts meditation seminars.)
As Karen continued reading, she turned the page to find the exact poem friend Kathy had sent. “I shivered and smiled and read it again and again. I felt the universe had sent me a message.”
Karen and Kristin have many nautical miles to go in dealing with their grief over their larger-than-life husband and father. They’ve decided to scatter his ashes in the ocean, “so he can play with the dolphins.”
The much loved poem which brought comfort to Karen was originally written in 1932 by Mary Elizabeth Frye, a Baltimore housewife…
Do not stand by my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand by my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Fair winds, sweet Eddie. A legion of fans miss you. Whenever we see dolphins breaking the waves, we’ll think of you.