Written by Ingrid Keizer
If you or someone close to you is experiencing despair or suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-273-8255. There is someone waiting to take your call 24/7. There is ALWAYS hope.
Fathers Day brings about iconic images of the dad that stands by the BBQ grill flipping burgers and holding a cold one. He probably stands on the sidelines at sporting events bursting with pride and sits patiently through the same music selection at choir concert after choir concert. He undoubtedly makes personal sacrifices for things like music lessons and college tuition. In truth, not all dads fit that mold. Some spend a lifetime trying to figure it out. Some become fathers without the maturity to be present. Some enter into the world like a meteor, lighting the sky for a brief moment, illuminating beauty but still unable to ignore the darkness. Sadly they burn out too quickly. However, if we are lucky a faction of that light somehow survives and continues to reveal itself.
Avery Harman was two and a half years old when her weatherman father took his own life. On the day that he died he came home like he did every day, spoke to his wife about the days events and swept Avery off to “practice” tooth brushing.
Monica and Don Harman spent spent 16 years of their lives together. They moved cross country twice, bought a house, adopted a dog, married and welcomed baby Avery. After being married for six years and one month to the date, Monica came home to find Don’s lifeless body.
There were and are various online rumors in circulation concerning Don’s death. There are no shortage of cruel comments to accompany them. The media reported that he had battled depression for years. There were suggestions that on air bullying took its toll, that there was an affair and even an implication that the abduction and death of a former co-worker implicated Don. These are the facts:
Monica Harman loved Don and the life they shared together. Monica states that there was never a diagnosis of depression and that she saw no signs of it until his death. Monica did not view the video of Don’s last weather report for years. When she allowed herself to see it she was pained by the behavior that indicated that he was in distress. After Don’s passing Monica spent months checking pockets in his wardrobe for evidence that offered clues into his despair. She found none. Like other loved ones of suicide victims, Monica will question what she might have done, seen or missed that might have saved Don for the rest of her life. After five years Monica’s tears still flow easily. Monica is lovely, genuine and devoted to carrying out Don’s legacy. Don loved Monica.
Don was “over the moon” in love with his daughter Avery. He changed her first diaper and insisted on sharing in her care. When Monica experienced the emotional fatigue that new mothers all experience, he had the foresight to regularly send her out to have alone time. Don had the natural wisdom to know what a new mother needs to stay mentally fresh, engaged and nurturing. The proud father loved sharing his new daughter with his viewers and his viewers loved witnessing the obvious adoration.
Don thrived on developing relationships with his viewers. He was easily one of Kansas City’s most loved television personalities. Don loved his community and enjoyed giving back. Monica Harman indicated that while initially it was to Don’s advantage to be active within the community, it became a part of him. It was the real deal. He loved teaching and interacting with children. He loved helping others. One of Don’s favorite local causes was Amethyst Place. Amethyst Place located on Troost provides housing and treatment to women and their children during the sobriety process. Don’s devotion to Amethyst Place stemmed from his own mother’s struggle with sobriety. Though she eventually became successful in her battle, Don recognized the vulnerability of their situation. It was his gratitude for being spared homelessness and the other vulnerabilities that having an alcoholic parent presents that motivated his dedication to Amethyst Place.
Don’s family maintain very close contact with Monica and Avery. There were never fingers pointed or blame placed. Monica and Avery visit Don’s father in Florida annually. Both Monica and Don’s family rallied around Monica after Don’s passing. Both families shielded her from media reports and internet gossip.
Don played with the same softball team for ten years. His teammates became his brothers. The Christmas following Don’s death each member of the team came to the Harman home to deliver Christmas presents to the family. The “boys” as Monica calls them, remain devoted to Monica and Avery who almost never miss a game. The “boys” greet Monica warmly, sweep Avery up in warm hugs and shower her with candy. They are a team of sweet uncles.
Saturday, July 23rd will mark the 5th Annual Don Harman Memorial Summer Slam Softball Tournament. Adult softball teams near and far are invited to participate in raising the funds to support Don and Monica’s community causes. Don lived his life in full force, vibrantly embracing the best in all of us. His legacy of giving lives on through this memorial.
The Annual Don Harman Memorial Summer Slam Softball Tournament benefits the following local agencies:
One of the deficits that exist in the area is support for the families and friends of suicide victims. Though Monica had the wonderful support of family and friends the existence those experienced in the grief of suicide was not present. Solace House reached out to Monica. Solace House is part of Kansas City Hospice and Palliative Care. Solace House is a non-profit organization that provides services related to all kinds of loss. Solace House specializes in individual responses to loss and its manifestation in all parts of life. Attempting to negotiate the emotions that occur after loss to suicide alone is much like wandering a desert in a blindfold. There are unforeseen obstacles that can’t be imagined, endless miles of navigating blindly, self blame and plain old loneliness. Solace House house provided services that have helped to offer Monica secure footing and guidance for years.
Camp for Kids supports the belief that no KC child should be deprived of the camp experience due to income, or physical or developmental disabilities. Camp for Kids was founded by Marjorie Powell Allen over 30 years ago with the belief that in Kansas City, we take care of our own. Camp for a Kids is a non-profit organization that is funded largely from the generosity of local philanthropy and the generosity of community.
As mentioned before Amethyst Place provides transitional housing for women in recovery and for their children. In addition to housing Amethyst Place offers much needed therapy, educational programs, mentoring and guidance in life skills. Amethyst Place is also a non-profit organization that is dependent upon donations from the community and other organizations. Without the services of Amethyst Place over a hundred women and children in our community would become homeless each year.
With the love and support of those around them, Monica and Avery have settled into life without Don. His spirit is very present in everything around them. He lives on through the causes supported by the memorial fund that honors his dynamic and generous nature.
Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers wherever you may be in this journey of life. Happy Father’s Day especially to you Don, thank you for that brief and beautiful streak of light.
If you or someone close to you is experiencing despair or suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-273-8255. There is someone waiting to take your call 24/7.
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