Donatien (Don) M’Sadoques
He was born on March 19, 1921. He is from the Abenaki Tribe located in Odanak; a Native American Reservation in Canada. He and his twin brother, Lucien, were the second oldest children of a family of 10 kids. He grew up poor, yet and still, he was the child who was the caregiver in his family. He was the child who went with the priest from home to home to give the dying their last rites. He was the child who wove baskets for his mother. Baskets she would sell to help support the family.
When he was 17, he left the reservation and worked in neighboring towns and, of course, sent most of his earnings home to help his family. He decided to migrate to the U.S. and settled in Connecticut. In 1942, when he was 21, he and his twin brother both enlisted into the United States Navy Seabees and served in the Pacific until 1945.
He married and lost his first wife (Jeanine) four short years later when his only child was just 2.5 years old. Sadly, his young wife died from complications due to Rheumatic Fever. After her death, he chose to raise his son with the help of his parents before he remarried at the age of 42. In the meantime, he was the spring board to the U.S. for most of his siblings and cared for both of his parents until their death. Eventually, he and his second wife, Esther, moved to Boynton Beach, FL where they lived together (40 years) until she fell ill with Myelodysplasia and succumbed to the disease over 15 years ago. As he did with his parents, he cared for her at their Boynton Beach home (where he still resides) until she died.
He is loved and respected by all who know him; especially the hundreds of residents of his community, Jamaica Bay. He was the man who would bring the community together with Friday night dinners, pancake breakfasts and community barbeques. He would “deliver” to those who were shut-in. He was the man who would check on folks who were hurt or came down with any kind of illness. He is a “giver” and took little.
Two years ago he fell seriously ill and that’s where I come in. I am his Caregiver. I have cared for this gentle soul for nearly two years now. To be honest, when I stepped in, I didn’t think I would be here two weeks…yet here I am; so blessed to be here spending the days with him.
During my time with him, I discovered how talented he is at knitting and crocheting. The blankets he made were incredibly beautiful, but the sweaters? The sweaters he made, with the most intricate designs, were beyond anything one could purchase at a high end store.
Due to his illness, he had all but stopped creating these beautiful things. Then one day I asked him to crochet something that I would be able to put a manger on for the holiday season. As I watched him crochet this beautiful red and white table cover (where the manger would be displayed), I saw a man with a “purpose.” I realized how much joy this “purpose” brought to him. I tried to think of something he/we could do that would continue to bring “purpose” to his life …enter lap blankets.
Since February 2016, we (after a few online lessons for me!) began crocheting lap blankets and we thought it would be wonderful if we were to bring these blankets to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center for the Vets living there.
This picture is Don after we completed 50 blanks. We now have over 120, so what you
see in the picture is less than half of what we actually now have.
When his community learned about our project, they came together and dropped off tons of yarn for us to continue on this mission. So once again, at 95.5 years of age, he is able to bring this community together for a common cause. He is, without a doubt, the kindest, gentlest, caring soul I have ever encountered. He is the ultimate humble servant! He served his family. He served his country. He served his community and his friends, and he did it well and faithfully. Imagine…at 95.5 his life is still about giving.
With the holiday season right around the corner, I hope, by sharing his story, we are all inspired by Don’s life of giving and selflessness.
Thank you for allowing me to share the story of such a special human being.
In His Service,