Dad Left Us a Lifetime of Memories
Authors: Caroline Banholzer , Kate Banholzer
In May of 2014 our dad, Dave Banholzer, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme, a terminal form of primary brain cancer. Within a matter of seconds, we knew our lives would never be “normal” again. Following his diagnosis, he lived with cancer for 28 months. During his remaining time, he attempted to give us a lifetimes worth of memories and lessons that we still cherish to this day.
Predating his diagnosis, dad always prioritized his family despite having to spend a lot of time away from home because of work. We both have fond memories of daddy daughter dates where he would spend the day with each of us individually. Caroline has fond memories of being in the living room and learning how to dance while standing on his feet. Kate remembers one of her daddy daughter dates when they went to the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. We will always hold these memories close to our hearts. We also love the memories of him helping us with school projects, homework, taking us to practice and teaching us how to play baseball in the backyard, as well as just playing games like “airport” with us. He would make a point to make it to meets, games and competitions, even if he was just getting back from a long trip.
Dad’s job allowed him to travel around the globe, but he always wanted to be the one to show us the world. He wanted to wait until we were a little bit older but knowing that he would not be alive long enough for this to happen, we took a trip to Europe the following summer. The memories we made on that trip are memories that we will never forget. He knew he was going to miss some of our big life milestones so he recorded videos of himself and wrote letters to us in the future that we will get to open and read when we reach those milestones.
Lessons He Taught Us
Dad taught us so many valuable lessons from a young age. Caroline remembers sitting at the dinner table while he talked about the places he got to visit and the different cultures around the world. At the time we thought those dinner table classes were dull, now we appreciate his “long and boring lectures.” He also used to say, “you can’t erase your reputation and what you do even at a younger age will follow you for the rest of your life.” Even though we do not have him here with us to talk to and to learn from, we have those wise things that he told us before he was taken from us.
On November 4, 2016, he passed away. Shortly after his death TAPS reached out to our family. TAPS has helped us continue to make great new memories while helping us to remember the old ones. Death does not only take a loved one, it also takes away the experiences that were supposed to be made together. Even though we are no longer able to make new memories with him, we will always cherish the old ones.
In the time since he has passed, we have learned how differently we all grieve. Grief hits especially hard during the holidays as well as at big events. We remember our first Christmas after he died. We decided to spend that holiday away from traditions and painful memories. It did not feel like Christmas, which is exactly what we needed at the time. Now we carry on these traditions to help us remember the Christmas’s we had together as well as create new traditions, like visiting Arlington on Memorial Day or being around family on his birthday. When Kate graduated from high school, she still wanted to make him a part of this special time in her life especially because he played such a major role in getting her to this momentous occasion.
Our dad’s passing away will always be a dark spot in our past, but when we remember him, we try not to remember him as sick. Instead we will choose to focus on the happier times, the memories of homework and baseball. He had such a positive impact on both our lives as well as so many others.
Caroline and Kate Banholzer are the surviving daughters of Colonel David Banholzer. They live in Maryland with their mother, Alison Banholzer.
LOVE LIVES ON ALBUM
The Banholzer family’s story of love, honor and sacrifice come to life on the musical album, Love Lives On. The Banholzers co-wrote their story with professional musicians and producers to create the song "New Set of Wings." Learn more about the album and download or stream their song.