Strong Women: Julie Dollahite
This has been a week of loss. At last count, four people I know have died since last Friday. The most personal, and recent, loss was my aunt. She passed away last night after a struggle with breast cancer. Life sure is challenging sometimes.
Relevant to this blog, today I attended the memorial service of Julie Dollahite. Julie and her husband, Bill, own Driveway Austin, the fabulous place where I took my racing class and attended a BMW driving event. Julie and Bill’s son, Scott, was one of my driving instructors.
I had not been out to Driveway in months (although I think almost every day about how I need to find the time and money to go out there), so had no idea that Julie had been dealing with cancer and was completely shocked to hear of her death, at the too-young age of 59, on Sunday.
I only met Julie a number of times and probably knew her the least well of anyone at today’s memorial service, but I could tell just from our few chats that she was the kind of Strong Woman I gravitate towards. Selfishly, I feel sad for ME that I won’t get to know her better.
I have one memory in particular of Julie. I had gone out to Driveway one morning, maybe a Sunday, to do some laps. When I got there, the course was closed because Scott was giving a little boy a private go-kart lesson. Julie and I chatted for probably half an hour. I don’t remember what all we talked about (a variety of topics, I think), other than laughing at how adorable Scott and his little go-kart racer were, but I remember liking her so much – feeling such a rapport – and thinking, this is one cool lady. I ended up going home eventually, rather than waiting for the track to open, but I had such a good time talking to Julie I was glad I had made the 30+ minute drive down. I remember the only reason I left was because some karters came in to sign up for the go-kart racing Driveway has on Sunday, and Julie got busy handing out paperwork. Otherwise, I probably would have stayed and talked to her all afternoon.
I was looking forward to the next time our paths crossed. I almost sent her a friend request on Facebook, then thought that was silly since she probably wouldn’t even remember me. Plus, I knew I would be back to Driveway soon, and then we could become real friends!
Now she’s gone, and I feel so sad for Bill and Scott and the rest of her family. It was obvious from being around any one of the three of them that they were a very close-knit and loving family. It’s unfair that this happened.
The way Julie Dollahite lived her life, and the kind of person she was, is an inspiration to me. She is (present tense) a Strong Woman, and I will think of her as I continue to evolve and figure out who I am. Julie’s death is also a reminder to me, as was my friend Matt’s, that I shouldn’t put off the things I really want to do, even something that may seem as trivial (under the circumstances) as going out to Driveway, doing my laps, and progressing through the rest of the racing classes. Not just because of the activity itself, but because of the people you meet along the way. Life is too short to not cultivate friendships with those people you really like the moment you meet them.
Thanks for that reminder, Julie.
I love that sentence: “Life is too short to not cultivate friendships with those people you really like the moment you meet them.” That is so true. I am sorry that you didn’t get the chance to hang out with Julie any more, but I’m glad you got to see her as much as you did, to get to know her as a Strong Woman and enjoy the time you did have together.
I am also sorry for the loss of your aunt. My prayers and best wishes for you and your family! You are all special, wonderful people.
Thank you, Rob!
Not sure what made me google my sister’s name today. It was a surprise to see your lovely tribute. When she was told that there was nothing more that could be done, a few days before she actually passed, she asked me “do you know the plan?” I said yes, and I asked if she was OK. She said “well it’s not my first choice.” Then she said “I just know I’m going to wake up tomorrow.” And she did. I told her that I would pray for a miracle and she pointed her finger at me and said “you get on that.”
She was a strong women. She did not cry for her self. When I cried, she patted my hand and said “I know it’s hard.” I feel like she showed me how to die with grace and courage. Maybe her paving the way for us was the “miracle.”
Thank you for taking the time to remember her. She was worth remembering.
Thank you for commenting! I remember your beautiful tribute to her at the memorial service. “It’s not my first choice” has really stuck with me as a matter-of-fact way of dealing with life’s curveballs. It’s ironic that I was thinking about her today, too. She continues to be an inspiration to me, and you and your family are in my thoughts often.