Hasta Luego, Papa

This is not an easy post to make. I’ve sat down at my computer countless times over the past few days to write this blog but the words wouldn’t come. Today I decided that no matter what, I was going to do this. For my dad.

Chiriqui Chatter was very special to him. I know he made many friendships and reached many people through his writing here, and he enjoyed you all so much. Keeping this blog going was more than a hobby, it became a means of touching lives in ways he didn’t expect. It made him happy to write here.

Years ago he set me up as an admin for this exact moment. Now that it’s here, I don’t feel worthy. I’m not sure I can do it justice.

*Deep breath*

My name is Kimberly Dawn Williams Frank and I’ve been blessed to call Don Ray Williams my father throughout my life. In late December he suffered a medical emergency that required surgery, and over the course of the next four months doctors did everything they could to save his life, but on the morning of May 4th, in the comfort of his own home and surrounded by family, he took his last breath. We are overwhelmed with sadness. My dad was supposed to be a centenarian like his Uncle Horace. He was supposed to watch his great grandchildren grow up. My middle school son still needs help with his math homework.

That life lesson my dad taught me many years ago rings truer than ever today. It’s not fair.

So how can I possibly sum up 77 years of his life in one short post? It’s not possible. I could barely scratch the surface of all his accomplishments or even begin to say how much he was loved and appreciated. The amount of generosity and compassion my father bestowed on family, friends, and often times strangers, is overwhelming. Already I’ve had people reaching out to tell me stories of his kindness, how he’s helped people find homes, set up their technology, and even provide financial support.

My father was the smartest man I’ve ever known. Do you remember when you were a young child and you believed your parents knew everything? That never went away for me. My dad was always the first person I would call when I had questions.

“How do I connect my speakers to the receiver?”

“What does this light mean on my car?”

“What kind of investments should I make?”

“How should I respond to this person?”

“What’s happening in politics right now?”

“What’s the best laptop?”

He wasn’t perfect, there’s only one Father who is, but he was very special. I will miss him so much. I think I will miss his laughter the most. He and I had a unique sense of humor and when we were together he would almost always laugh. I mean the kind of laughter where his face would turn red and he’d throw his head back in silence until the bubbled laughter would finally burst through. It made me happy that I could help bring that kind of joy to him.

His wife, Lilliam, was the love of his life. I can’t express enough my gratitude to her for loving and nurturing my dad all these years. Though countless times I told my dad he didn’t deserve her (haha), they completed each other. She’s been an amazing wife and step-mother and will forever be my family.

I plan to leave this blog up. At least for now. Lilliam has told me it’s paid up for the year and the thought of taking this down feels like erasing a part of my dad. There’s so much knowledge and history here.

Thank you all who shared in my dad’s life either through leaving him comments here or real-life friendships. Know that you were all special him.

Hug your loved ones today. Life is short, so take a look around you and be thankful for what you have. Don’t take things for granted; if you have something on your mind, say it. Don’t let a day go by without telling someone you love them and you appreciate them.  I was blessed to be able to have all those conversations with my dad while he was in the hospital. I told him I loved him and that he was a great father. He told me he loved me and that he couldn’t ask for a better daughter. It was special. It was needed. Have those conversations with your loved ones now. Don’t wait.

During his last day on earth, my son prayed with my father and my daughter shared the gospel. He couldn’t speak to us at that point, but we know he heard us. My prayer and my hope now is that he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior so that I can end this blog with one final message to my beloved father:

This is not good-bye, dad.

I’ll see you later.

30 thoughts on “Hasta Luego, Papa

  1. So sad to hear the news. Glad I got to know him albeit not well. He was THE source of information for many people about all things Panama, the go-to guy for answering questions, like he was for you.
    Hope you all stay well.

  2. Kim, Don would be so pleased with your lovely adios and that Chiriqui Chatter will be available for a while longer. Deepest condolences and love to Lilliam, you and your family.

  3. So Sorry for Your Loss and the Loss of Don. Never did meet Don or Lillian in Person but I followed his Wise Experiences in Panama. Hasta luego Don

  4. I enjoyed Chiriqui Chatter and Don’s helpful news and hints for several years now. I never made it to Panama [health problems] but my former wife did and loves it there.

    Your closing comments brought me to tears. I pray the God of peace and all comfort will enfold you and your family in His love and grant you great peace in the face of this final enemy, death.

  5. I loved and will miss your Dad’s great sense of humor. Please accept my deepest condolences.

  6. So sorry to hear the sad news of your Dad’s passing. Having lost my my a few years ago I can say I know your pain.
    Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughtful and heartfelt post at your time of loss.
    We appreciated your Dad’s help and we appreciate you.
    God comfort you and your family.

  7. I knew your Dad since 2006 or 7. We both lived in David at the time and we sat for coffee many days in Pricemart or Priceshopper. Can’t remember which. We would enjoy all the different men from the different services. It was fun and enjoyable. He was a gentleman at
    all times and kept us up to date on what was going on in David and other local areas. I left Panama in 2008 and returned to the US. I kept following what was happening in David through his blog. I could say so many nice things but most of all he was a real nice man
    and that says it all. I will miss his news and blog but most of all I will miss him. Thank you
    for letting us know and in such a beautiful way. God bless you and Lilliam both of whom he talked about so often. Thank you,

  8. I’ve met Don a couple of times over the years. He was a wonderful addition to the expat community. He will be missed. A wonderful tribute to your father!

  9. So sorry for your loss. He was always there when needed the most for factual information, harder to find with each passing day.

  10. I was in total shock when I read this. Don was a dear friend of mine and my husband’s. He helped me through many technology problems we had. Always available and took time to help out. Got to see him at his beautiful home with his lovely wife. He contacted me a few times after he moved to Texas to see how we were doing. Just an awesome man and he was truly missed when he left Panamá. Now….he will be missed even more. God gained another angel…..fly high Don!

  11. My husband and I were fortunate to have met Don and Lilliam in Panama when we were there in 2010. Few people in our lives leave us with positive a lasting impression. We needed his insight and he was most generous with advice and knowledge of the country. Please give Lilliam a hug from us and may God Bless her with health and serenity in the years to come.

  12. I am so sorry to read this news. Your father was such a kind and helpful man. I always enjoyed his posts and missed him when he went back home. Life seems so sad. Please remember how loved he was and treasure all your wonderful memories.

  13. We send our condolences.. He was a special person to us here. Don went the extra mile for all of us, in what he did and what he taught us, and as well shared. So sorry for your loss.
    Alison and Bil Brundage

  14. Your Dad was a great man and a great human. He did many things for many people here in Panama. I bought their artificial Xmas tree before they left for Texas. I will be thinking of Don for many Christmas’s to come. I hope. My condolences to Lilliam please.

  15. I am so sorry for your loss. Don will be xorley missed. He was oe the most unselfish people I have ever met, always there to lend a hand.

  16. Good Morning Kimberly. I hope you know how saddened that Tilden and I are that your Dad is no longer with us. We were fortunate to call him and Lilliam our friends. My best memory was when they came to our home for a “real American Christmas Dinner” His words. He had missed the turkey and all the fixings. I think we provided this for him. He left happy. I met your Dad like so many others by having him solve a computer problem. That was the beginning of him solving many problems for me. And the beginning of our friendship. We were sorry to see them leave Panama but through WhatsApp we were able to stay in touch. We will miss him and will always carry him and Lilliam in our hearts.

  17. Kim, It is with great sadness I am reading your Blog about Don’s passing. He was such a strong and loved pillar of communications for our expat community along with Panama in general. Thinking of you in these difficult times. Our prayers are with you, Lillian and your entire family he loved so much.

  18. Posted on Chiriqui Life:
    Posted 2 hours ago
    Don was a very empathetic soul. He took on the job of Warden ( representative volunteer for US citizens interfacing with the US government) . It’s very difficult sometimes to be “the one” who is meeting an urgent need of a fellow citizen here in a foreign land. Many sick and many without money and many non-Spanish speakers asked him for assistance. His “job” as volunteer was to advise and assist ; to connect. He always went the extra mile. He sat at the bedside. He arranged care for handicapped in homes. He gave his time, his soul and often…his money. Chiriqui Chatter was his way of conversing with us all informally. (..like CL and the work Bud does here.) Don shared his life experiences on his “Chiriqui Chatter”. Lots of times it was griping about internet connections and speed, or sharing a eureka on how to upgrade his cyber-gadgets. We got to meet his family in the USA through “Chiriqui Chatter” and as well his stories about his wife and he living here. We got to know Don very well…..he was “our connection”

    When Don left here to return to the USA we disconnected a bit…at least many of us here felt that way…Don was gone. One of his last posts was : “How to pack-cheap in order to leave Panama” . He shared how he packed all his special things into suitcases…lots of them….and shipped them out. Cheap ! Even leaving, he helped us

    Now Don’s gone. He left. ……and many of us cry. I am.

    RIP Don.

    Alison

    Quote

  19. A friend told me of your father’s passing and I felt physical pain as the tears flowed. I heard from him a few months ago, he told me he had been ill and would write when his health had improved.
    Don Ray helped me so much when my husband passed, to the point that I could not have seen myself surviving the loss without Don Ray and Lilliam there to give me support, love and their friendship.
    We became close over the next few years. He enjoyed my sense of humor and loved my chiffon pies, butterscotch was his favourite.
    Then in 2015 I had a home invasion and was stabbed and shot twice. It was Don Ray who again came to my aid, he gave shelter to my daughter when she arrived in Panama. My daughter speaks fluent Spanish but it would have been impossible for her to manage without Don Ray. He drove her to the hospital every day for three months, drove her around to obtain any papers that were necessary and he and Lilliam were there for her giving support and comfort.
    When I was finally released from hospital three months later, Don Ray and Lilliam took me in to their house, nursed and fed me and drove me daily back to the hospital for appointment, tests and additional outpatient surgeries. I was with them for three months before I was fit enough to move to a rental being unable to face returning to my own home.
    Your father was a very, very special man. You are totally correct when you wrote that he had found the love of his life in Lilliam.
    I send my deepest sympathy for your loss, there will be such a hole left in the life of every family member with his passing. Please, please give my love to Lilliam – my heart breaks for her.
    If there I anything, anything at all that I can do for Lilliam, you or any of the family, please let me know.

  20. I first “met” your dad when came across this blog while I was doing research prior to our move to Panama. This blog was a wealth of information that really helped with the transition. I liked it because, even though I had family that lived in David, it came from a viewpoint of someone that had made a similar transition versus the people that I knew already that liver there and were born there.
    Once we moved I later met your dad and his wife, Lilliam, at church. I know this is probably going to sound nerdy or corny but I was actually kinda in awe. Me being someone that always aspired to be a writer and share my thought on a blog like Chiriqui Chatter I admired and was inspired by what he built with Chiriqui Chatter. I guess you could say I was a fan? He offered to help us spread the word about the business my wife and I had launched and it turns out that one of Lilliam’s daughter was a classmate of my wife’s. Small world and small town David is. Later, once we had moved back to the U.S. I still kept following his posts on Chiriqui Chatter because it gave me a keyhole look into that great place where we had so many happy memories.
    Your dad was a kind hearted, good soul and he will be missed. We will keep him in our prayers and please let us know if there are any donations or arrangement that you may need help with.

  21. Kimberly,

    Your dad was such a wonderful person. I loved reading his blog, it was always filled with helpful information and almost always with a dash of humor. My husband and I met Don in 2006, not long after moving to Panama. He was so helpful to us on so many occasions and when he and Lilliam moved away, they left behind a huge void that is still felt to this day and by so many.

    Your dad was loved and respected by so many. It is hard to believe he is gone! May he rest in peace and may you find comfort as you read through all the lovely messages so many have shared with you.

    Our most sincere condolences.

    Mary and Don Binder

  22. Kim, I too knew your dad. He and I talked technology among other things. I visited the home in David several times and it was always a treat. Chiriqui Chatter was a daily staple, sort of my morning paper with coffee. It was easily the most honest look at life in Chiriqui and like your father, so helpful to so many.

    There is no need to take down this blog in the future. I run a technology company and would be honored to transfer the blog to our equipment and leave it online at no charge. The memories and articles should not be lost.

    You can email me dan@twinwolf.net if that is something you would like to consider.

    With a sad heart and fond memories,

    Dan Porter
    Twin Wolf Technology Group

  23. Hi Kim, this blog was so helpful to many people. I used to read it on a weekly basis to learn what’s going on in David. He touched many people with it. I met your Dad once in 2008 when I was visiting David. I saw that he had posted that he was craving Almond Joys based off this post. http://www.chiriquichatter.net/blog/2008/08/19/one-for-two/ I bought a big box plus Mounds from BJs to give to him. When I met him and gave them to him, it made his day he said. He was so helpful to people that he made me want to return the favor. Condolences to Lilliam and your family. He will be missed.

  24. Kim I have only just come to know of your Dad’s passing. I lived closeby to he and Lillian and would almost daily call him with a how to question. Invariably he would tell me to “Come on over and we will fix it,” I knew I would die long before him but to find this not the case has come as shock to me. Your tribute to him ts worthy of his genius which you have clearly inherited.

  25. Kim, I was born and raised in David, where Don Ray lived for several years. Since 1992 I lived in California. I found Don Ray’s blog about 10-12 years ago and I loved the sincere way he portrayed living in a 3rd World Country, with all its flaws (and the good things) not like those promoting living in Panama like it was living in Paradise. I looked forward to read his blog daily and learn what was going on in David even before my family was to let me know. He met my family still living in Panama since they went to the same church. On one of my visits back he invited me to his (and Lilliam) house. A second time we met at local pizza place. He was a caring, intelligent, very friendly, wonderful man who made a difference to so many moving and living in Panama and to the locals also. He will be greatly missed. My family and I send our sincere condolences to you and your family.
    Jaime Gonzalez.

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