Thanksgiving is a time when most of us gather around the table and count our blessings. Families all gather and reflect on the happenings over the last year. It’s supposed to be a happy time.
This year, the thought of Thanksgiving makes me a little sad. My family will be together to share a meal but my heart is breaking for some friends who lost their son, brother and husband unexpectedly earlier this month. They are wonderful people who have had so much heartbreak over the last couple of years.
Sam Downen was just 22 when he passed away on Nov. 11. Sam and his family are part of my farmers market family. When Sam and his sister Kristen were little, we spent a lot of summers together at farmers markets in both Lawrenceville, Illinois, and Vincennes. They came to the markets with their grandpa and dad and I still vividly remember Kristen and Sam heading over the variety store on the square in Lawrenceville and bringing back candy and snacks for all of us to share.
Now Sam comes from a family of tall people. His dad, Brian, who passed away in February of 2020, was tall too so I guess it was to be expected that Sam would also likely be quite tall. They were both the kind of people who you would automatically assume would be great basketball players and Sam was. In fact, he was part of the Sectional championship team at South Knox just four years ago.
Sam had a great sense of humor and loved to tease people. He often liked to give me a hard time about being short and I would attempt to retaliate by reminding him about that time he bought a jar of grape jelly from me but sneezed and dropped it before getting it in the house.
In October, Sam married his high school sweetheart Lexi. She’s part of our Vincennes farmers market family too. Her stepfather, Andy, sells at the market and Lexi sometimes came to help him (or maybe it was so she could spend more time with Sam). Not long after their wedding, Sam and Lexi were at farmers market on a Wednesday night. Little did I know it would be the last time I would see him. He bought a bag a apples and was hoping to talk his mom into making him an apple crisp. It didn’t take long for the big hearted giant to actually admit he would probably only eat one piece with the apples but would gladly eat all the crunchy toppings. That memory makes me smile.
Sam, you may be gone but you will never be forgotten.
This Thanksgiving please remember those who are celebrating their first holiday without their loved ones. They may be gone, but the memories will remain forever.