LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate with flowers and chocolates, sweet cards or maybe even a proposal.
But for one LaRue County woman, this Valentine’s Day is a reminder of her story of love. Becky and Billy Hawkins married 25 years ago. They have two children and they have both loved and cherished many others over the years as educators, giving back to their students.
Becky Hawkins teaches third-grade Social Studies and more at Shepherdsville Elementary School. On Friday, Mrs. Hawkins shared a lesson in love that goes well beyond the classroom. WAVE 3 News asked her about a letter she had written titled, “My Sweetie.”
“I called him my sweetie all the time,” she said, adding that her husband was an inspiration to many. The letter about Billy touted his dedication as a husband, father and friend who helped countless students over the years in LaRue County classrooms and on the soccer field.
“He was the guy you could always count on to help you, if you called,” Becky Hawkins said. “Anytime, he would be there.”
That was until he couldn’t be, just a few months ago.
“We were giving up someone we had loved and who had given so much to everyone else,” she said of her late husband. A sudden stroke took Billy Hawkins, 45, with little time for the family to say goodbye. While they weren’t ready, he was prepared.
Billy had already taken the steps with Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates to give life to someone else.
“He reaffirmed it years before,” she said. "It would be his final act of service.
“That was just the guy he was for everyone. He was just a giver, not a taker at all, just a giver.”
Part of the reason Billy thought about it a long time ago? His wife had a fear of graveyards and funeral homes growing up. He told her not worry about it; he was donating his organs and tissue anyway.
The love letter published by KODA isn’t to Billy; it’s to three transplant patients who needed Billy’s kidneys and lung, and to all the others who still may benefit from his gift of love but may need closure, too.
“If you got organs from someone who was a servant, a full servant in their heart,” she said, “it would kind of make you feel good that you had something from someone like that. It could impact their life.”
She said the letter might even inspire recipients to start serving others.
Valentine’s Day happens to be National Donor Day. Folks like Becky and organizations like KODA hope everyone will use the day to think about more than flowers and candy, but possibly one of the greatest gifts of love that’s out there -- organ and tissue donation.