My mom called me tonight to tell my that my first pharmacy mentor, Don Jones, died yesterday at the age of 78. I don’t know what I could say about this man other than what I said last October in this post. Needless to say, he was hugely influential to me and is probably single handedly responsible for me becoming a pharmacist. You don’t get a whole lot more influential than that.
Don had been in the nursing home and in declining health for several years and he was recently admitted to hospice, so it wasn’t too terribly surprising. Still, even when you know death is coming, you’re never quite prepared for it like you think you will be. I was just thinking in the shower this morning (and I swear I’m not making this up) about how I should try to get over to Carroll to see him before he died. The last time I saw him was at Jeff’s mom’s funeral in 2008 and it really was good to see him.
A few memories – indulge me:
- “Prednisone malaise” – Don and his wife Jody had convinced a very gullible 17 year-old Dan that simply touching broken prednisone tablets would make you sick. I fell for it – hook, line and sinker. Much laughter ensued.
- A long standing tradition in community pharmacies is that if you have three “perfect pours” – that is, you pour the exact amount of tablets or capsules from a bottle – you get to go home. There’s all sorts of variations on this, but one day, Don had a perfect pour and I said “Don, if you do that two more times, you get to go home.” His response was “I own the place, I can go home whenever I want to.” Touche!
- The newspaper office in Carroll was right next to the pharmacy and in the summer, I’d go over there every day to get the paper. I would always bemoan the engagement and wedding page, sure that I would never be in those pages. Don and Jody always reminded me that I was young and would someday find that right person. When I did, they showed up to my wedding and one of the first things they said was “you made the engagement page in the Carroll paper!”
- At one annual inventory, we came across a product we ordered in special for a patient and used once, making it unreturnable. The product was Humibid-LA. Don said “we might as well call it ‘Hung-ibid'” – implying that we got hung with it.
While these stories are funny, the most important thing I remember from the time that my life intersected with his is how he took a chance on a high school senior and ended up, intentionally or not, turning me into a pretty damn good pharmacist. When I look back on my life, I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had many instances where people have taken a chance on me when I’m not sure I would have taken the chance on me. Don Jones set me down the road that would one day be my career and for that, I am forever grateful. It’s a debt that I can never repay. My thoughts are with his wife and their five children and countless grandchildren.
I think for me, when I get to the end of my life, I would just like to know that I made a difference somewhere along the way, no matter how small or large. Don Jones made a huge impact in my life and for that, I will always be grateful.
RIP Don. You made a difference.