Monday, November 04, 2013

Remembering Danny

My brother-in-law Danny died a week ago. He was in great pain and ready to go to his reward. I called my sister the day before, and she filled me in a little on his condition. He'd been hallucinating off and on. Did I want to talk with him? She handed him the phone.

"Hi Collin!" he said. He sounded cheerful, or was that just me wanting him not to be in pain? I told him I was sorry he was going through all this. He seemed not to hear me, but said, "I'll call you back, OK?"

No you won't, I thought, but what I said was, "OK." What a miserable situation! He wanted to go, he was deeply uncomfortable, and if he recovered, my sister would have had a horrific time trying to care for him: a leg was due to be amputated, and his heart was going to need a valve job within a year.

And yet how terrible for him not to be there any more!

Well, I wanted to write a few things about him while I can still see.

The lovely Carol mentioned a time when our kids were very young. There were frustrations, but she never heard Danny yell at his boys. She asked him about it, and he explained that he'd put a hand on the kid's shoulder and lower his face to be directly in front of the kid's. (Maybe that was one hand on each shoulder—I don't recall exactly.) His nose no more than 3 inches from his son's, he would say firmly, "You need to put away your toys now." It was not loud, but it was quite effective.

Danny's musical gifts were considerable, and he used them at various churches. At yesterday's memorial service, I kept reminding myself that he wasn't about to appear on stage with his cane and sit down at the piano. Several people mentioned yesterday that he started many musical groups and worked patiently with almost anyone who wanted to sing or play.

What I remember most about him most was his gentle manner and the way he talked about his health challenges. "Everybody's got something," he would say, and he was certainly right about that. But Danny had way more than his fair share.

"I'll call you back, OK?" he said. When I get there, some decades hence I suppose, I'll hold him to that promise.

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