Photo: Courtesy of the Jaquish Family via ABC News
Get ready to weep, ladies. To honor his late wife Babbette Jaquish, who lost her battle to cancer this past December, Don Jaquish planted 400 acres of sunflowers along Wisconsin's Highway 85 in Eau Claire this past June — Babette's favorite bloom.
"She was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside," Jaquish told ABC News.
It took this devoted husband a week to plant all of the flowers, whatever land Jaquish didn't own himself neighbors rented to him for a reasonable price. Now, the brightly-colored florals are finally in bloom after a 75-day growing period. Jaquish plans to sell the seeds and donate a portion to research, hospitals, and patient advocacy, under the name Babbette's Seeds of Hope.
"She got to be known as the sunflower lady of the community," Jaquish explained. "So after she passed away, I thought it would be a tribute to her to plant 4.5 miles of sunflowers on each side of Highway 85."
Don and Babbette's marriage was the second for both, but their love was palpable. "Everyone that ever met Babbette fell in love with her," Jaquish recalled. "I was just lucky enough to be the guy that she fell in love with."
"They were very much in love with each other. My mom would have done anything for him and he would have done anything for her," Babbette's daughter Jenny White, told ABC News.
When Babbette was diagnosed in 2006, the couple planted several acres of sunflowers on their property. Then, Babbette had the idea to sell the seeds towards research, but unfortunately fell too ill to run a company. "She realized the importance of research in clinical trials. She went from being expected live two weeks to two months to nine years," said Jaquish. "Her attitude was everyday I can stay alive I'm one day closer to a cure."
Of the finished product, Jaquish knows his wife would be pleased. "I think she would be smiling," Jaquish said. "We had an amazing response. We've had people all over the world send emails."