I am writing to share some stories in honor of my dear friend Dana Hudson. It is my sincerest hope that these reflections along with yours will serve as a living memorial and that by sharing them, Dana’s light may continue to uplift us as much now as it has through out his life. So with out further ado please allow me to share a few words about one of the most extraordinary men who ever lived.
The very first time I met Dana he was grinning ear to ear with this big radiant “I love life and I love you!” kind of smile. Naturally it was contagious and I soon returned his joyful expression with a bright enthusiastic smile of my own. And so it would come to pass with that one simple interaction the foundation was laid for what would become a deep, enriching and meaningful friendship. No matter how good I already felt, seeing Dana always seemed to lift my spirits even further. Warm glowing laughter and all around good cheer surrounded him where ever he was and I just loved just being able to be a part of it.
Star Dough’s Cafe was right on my route home. I made it a point to stop in daily to check in on the master of ceremonies Mr. Dana Hudson himself! I had a taste of something delicious and I was hooked. The fact was Dana had something I needed and best of all it was his pleasure to share it! When I was hungry he fed me. When I was thirsty he gave me something to drink. When I needed some one to talk to he and Grandma were there. One time he even offered to wash my filthy tree sap and dirt stained Carheart work pants and you know what?.. I took him up on it! He always worked to be of service to others even strangers.
Dana fed people. Of course he did! Star Dough’s is well known in our community for it’s wood fired pizzas cooked to perfection, juicy grass fed blue cheese burgers and mouth watering smoked tri tip sandwiches to boot! The place is stocked to the brim with tasty treats from fudge brownies and ice cream for shakes to Don’s famous doughnuts, fresh baked pumpkin bread and more. Everyone knows they make excellent coffee (the best in town!) and the quiche is delicious. But the truth of the matter is that all this food is just an excuse to serve up Dana’s favorite thing of all. The secret ingredient; You know the one… LOVE!! “Made with love…” Anyone who knows Dana knows these famous words. His enthusiasm for serving food “made with love” is legendary.
He was down right notorious for being joyful and kind to all that he encountered. And one thing about Dana was that he treated everyone the same. It made no difference whether you were a well to do business person, a government official, or the six year old that lived around the corner wanting a pack of starbursts, Dana would give you his full attention. He would treat you with dignity and respect in a way that truly let you know you were not only important but you were his equal. I noticed right away he showed he was interested in my experience through strong eye contact, an acute mindful focus in conversation and playfully curious inquiries. He welcomed everyone in to his life and his friends are as diverse as they are numerous. They include people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and stature. He looked out for the elderly, the smallest of children and everyone in between. Even the dogs, cats and wild beasts called him friend! He was a man of faith and he is going to show you love whether you know it or not! This was his life’s work. This was his ultimate purpose; To show the world love.
Dana lived his life as the very best most authentic expression of himself. He was humble and would readily admit mistakes and places he hoped to grow, but the bottom line is he set the bar high. He led by example and in doing so shined a beautiful light in to our lives. His devotion in service to his family, friends and community is something most worthy of emulation. And as much as it breaks my heart to think of a world without Dana, I know deep down he would want us to find peace through these challenges.
I moved away a couple years ago and Dana made it a point to stay in touch. In the last letter he sent to me he said, “Things have definitely been challenging. But you know like all beautiful flowers if winds of trial don’t blow, how is it to grow deeper roots?” I know that part of the reason I love Dana so much is that in spite of the hardships he faced in life he always kept his faith. He continued cultivating Joy, serenity and compassion to share with all which is precisely the reason so many of us enjoy such a BIG heartfelt love for this man.
For now I allow my self the space to grieve his passing. But I do so with the knowingness that I will find gratitude for each day of this life in spite of tragedy and I will have compassion for every last one including the poor lost souls who would commit such an unthinkable offense. I say this with confidence knowing full well it is exactly what Dana would want; To bring peace to the table; To embrace every opportunity for forgiveness no matter how difficult; To take this time to get even closer with ourselves, each other, and our understanding of Divinity. For it is this very thing that inspired Dana to be the man which we have come to know and love.
I treasure the memories of time shared; the smiles, kind words, and laughter. And while I know that I can never replace Dana, I am whole heartedly committed to continuing to share his love. So the next time I see you, be ready for the biggest smile you have ever seen. Because when I greet you it will be with the gift of joy, gratitude and passion for life. When you are hungry I will feed you and when I cook for you, you better believe I’ll remember the secret ingredient…(love!) When you need shelter I will give freely all that I have to offer the way I saw Dana do. And when you just need a buddy I will be here for you. This is Dana’s gift that keeps giving and I am here to keep it alive no matter what.
Love “Your Buddy,”