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.

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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.

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