In December of 2007, Guelph lost a valuable member of our community. His name was Don Bower.
Don was a well respected man. He was honest and loyal. Giving and humble. A proud business man and an even prouder husband, father, and grandfather. Whether he was fulfilling the needs of his family, St. Andrew’s Church, or Guelph Rotary Club, Don always carried himself with dignity and a selflessness that few people could match. He took pride in his contributions to the community; not the least of which was helping develop a mentoring program for students at College Heights. He was always finding ways to help people.
In December of 2007, after clearing the snow on his driveway, he decided to help an elderly neighbour shovel their driveway too.
Now Don Bower could be a stubborn man. Through all of the years of helping people, he was often reluctant to accept any help from others. When one of his grandsons was younger, Don informed him that he was unable to mow his lawn anymore and asked his grandson to come by each week to do it for him. His grandson was happy to help for free, but Don insisted on it being a paying job. It wasn’t until a few years later that the grandson realized exactly what Don had done for him.
You see, Don was able to mow his own lawn. He was physically able to travel the world and hike up mountains with his wife, or even go golfing with his friends. But Don wanted his grandson to do more than mow the lawn. He wanted to teach the value of hard work and responsibility and the pride that came with it. He wanted to help his grandson.
In December of 2007, Don Bower was in his 78th year and still going strong. He continued to be a dedicated family man and community leader. And he had finally learned to be a little less stubborn. His grandson was older now and had finally convinced Don to accept some help. During the winter months, his grandson would clear the snow off of the large driveway, sidewalks, and front porch, and then would cross the street to help an elderly widow by doing the same for her. And his grandson refused to accept a single penny for doing so. And any time it snowed, his grandson would call to remind Don that he would be coming and not to shovel it himself. Don was often times reluctant to accept the offer. He didn’t want to inconvenience his grandson. But his grandson took pride in giving back to a man who had given so much.
In December of 2007, Don Bower decided to be stubborn. He told his grandson that there wasn’t enough snow on the driveway to worry about shoveling that day.
I will never forget that evening when I received the phone call that Don Bower had passed away of a heart attack. I will never forget the anger I felt when I heard that he had passed away after shoveling his driveway.
And I will never lose the guilt I feel for not going to my grandfather’s house that day to shovel it for him.
Now, in December of 2013, I am constantly aware and concerned when I see elderly people shoveling the snow off their driveways and sidewalks. The Snow Angels in Guelph is a valuable community volunteer program that I intend on becoming a part of this winter. I spend countless hours in the winter as a snow plow operator for our company but at the end of each shift, as exhausted as I may be, I always make it a point to help others in my neighbourhood with their own shoveling. And I never accept a penny for it. Don Bower has instilled in me the importance of helping others for the right reasons, and that those reasons should never be your own.
In December 2007, Guelph lost an important member of our community. And I lost my grandfather. I may never lose the guilt of what happened to him that day, but I will never lose sight of the fact that he passed away while heading across the street to help someone else.