Seeds of hope: Widower’s grand gesture to late wife stuns community and world 15



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There are some love stories that endure the test of time – those couplings that seem aligned by the stars and a deep love that can never be broken, even by death.

This is especially true for Wisconsin couple Don and Babbette Jaquish, who had been together for over 15 years. Sadly, Babbette passed away from cancer at 66 last November. But this didn’t stop her husband Don from making a romantic gesture of the largest scale.

Babbette loved sunflowers, so instead of planting a few in the garden, he decided to honour her memory by planting nearly 400 acres of sunflowers for her.

“She was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside,” Mr Jaquish, 65, told ABC News (USA).

It took Jaquish – who plans to sell the sunflower seeds and donate a portion of the proceeds to cancer research and hospital – just a week to plant the sunflower seeds that line Wisconsin’s Highway 85.
He borrowed the land from his neighbours and after 75 days of growth, the flowers finally bloomed this month.

“She got to be known as the sunflower lady of the community,” Don said, “So after she passed away, I thought it would be a tribute to her to plant 4.5 miles of sunflowers on each side of Highway 85″.

Jaquish, a grain farmer since 1972, had known Babbette for years before their wedding in 2000. Although they had married before, they both felt they were meant to be.

“Everyone that ever met Babbette fell in love with her,” Don said. “I was just lucky enough to be the guy that she fell in love with”.

Babbette’s daughter Jenny said, “They were very much in love with each other. My mom would have done anything for him and he would have done anything for her”.

In 2006, Babbette was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and had 22 different cancer treatments over the years. She supported clinical trials to further research into cancer, and during this time, her and Don planted hundreds of acres of sunflowers.

They had a plan to sell the sunflower seeds to benefit cancer research.

“She realised the importance of research in clinical trials. She went from being expected live two weeks to two months to nine years,” said Don. “Her attitude was everyday I can stay alive I’m one day closer to a cure”.

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“Unfortunately her health just kept declining over the years, and it got to be too much to start and operate a business when she was so sick,” her daughter Jenny said.

In December last year, still grieving their loss, Don and Jenny made Babbette’s dream come true by starting Babbette’s Seeds of Hope.Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 9.07.56 am

“I think she would be smiling,” Don said. “We had an amazing response. We’ve had people all over the world send emails”.

“We wanted it to be a statement of love. There’s 4.5 miles of sunflowers, and it’s an enormous, beautiful sight. And that’s just like my mom. That’s what she did with her life,” said Jenny.
Babbette’s Seeds of Hope will soon be for sale, with her story on every 10kg bag of sunflower seeds, and Don said they’ll plant sunflowers for her every year.
“I hope that eventually we can find a cure for cancer, so other families don’t have to go through what we have,” Don said.
So beautiful. We wish the Jaquish’s all the best.
Tell us, have you ever received a grand gesture from a partner? What was it?

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  1. Having had a brother diagnosed with multiple myeloma recently I have an idea what Don went through whilst caring for his wife Babette. My brother’s wife looks after him extremely well and is very meticulous in making sure he takes his medication and records it on a chart that she has drawn up, in case he has to be hospitalised. She is wonderful.

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