Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chicago '68

In August of 1968, the Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago. Walter Cronkite was god in the house at the time if for no other reason than dad was making trips to Viet Nam for his company.

Long story short - the police were tear-gassing, beating and arresting peace protesters. Dan was sitting on the edge of mom's bed, watching Walter report this on TV. Dan cried and asked mom why the police didn't do something. Mom said "Honey, those ARE the police."

Dan celebrated his 14th birthday late September of that year.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Black Hand

Dear Dan,

I was talking to a co-worker today about how her daughter gets wet in the grass while playing outside in the morning. None of the other kids have the same problem.

I remembered something I haven't thought of in ages. When we were kids mom always knew when you had been somewhere. There was always a black hand print. No matter how clean your hands looked or how often you washed your hands, there was always a black hand print. Our own little bit of the Cosa Nostra was what mom said.

We would send birthday or Christmas cards to the cousins or Grandmother and Granddad. We always signed our names. You always put a black thumbprint and there was never any question that you had given your stamp of approval.

Speaking of Christmas and birthday cards, you always had me rolling on the floor with the cards you sent. I looked forward to the cards or a postcard when you travelled. You always found something hilarious.

You have no idea how much I miss that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Dear Dan,

You loved politics so much and were so involved from early on. I remember you turned 18 the year 18 yr. olds were first allowed to vote. You got up early to get to the elementary school library and be the first in line. Those ballots were paper and they would tear off the corner with the ballot number on it, You wanted to be number one for your first vote.

It was then I learned that the people working there were allowed to vote before they let the public in. You had to settle for number eight. lol!!

When I turned 18 I was a higher number than that.

You worked for our national congressman. You asked me to go to a frat party for the opponent and "find out whatever." I ended up talking to the guy for about a 1/2 hour. I came back and gave you my report. You admitted you were impressed.

That was also around the same time I baked some rye bread. You had a piece and said "Do you mind if I give some to Joe?" You took a loaf. I was gob smacked when I found out "Joe" was the Congressman! I knew you must have thought it was good. You wouldn't have poisoned your boss!

I think you would have enjoyed this election very much.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From my "myspace" page on July 26, 2007

"Daniel, My Brother
Current mood: gutted, devastated
To my dear brother:

I miss you. All the color has gone out of the world; the music has stopped and all laughter has ceased. My heart has been shattered. I know your pain is over. I wish you peace.

My pain has just begun and will have no end."

Dear Dan,

I wrote that the "day after." I still feel that way. There are days where I almost forget that you're no longer in this world; when I feel like I can pick up the phone and call. Then it all comes crashing back.

I used to call for advice. Since I can no longer do that I think back to the time I did and then ask myself "What would Dan say about this?" I fee calm come over me and then I can look at the situation with reason and logic.

Other days it's still completely overwhelming. I can't help but wonder how we got here.

I love you. I miss you. I pray you find peace. I hope you have already.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Thanks to my experience with Vocation Vacations in 2005, I am pleased to report I have taken the plunge and now work as a full-time professional photographer!"

Dan Chaffee, Kansas City, MO Photographer Vocationer
Dear Dan,

This is a little something I found on the web not too long ago. Along with your bequest notes that were found after you died, you also left a release form for the site/the book. I want to get the book and look it over.

You was so excited about VocationVacations finding a photographer in the KC area that he could work with. You got the opportunity to go on a fashion shoot and look over the photographer's shoulder more or less. The assistant would set up the shot. Then you and the photographer would discuss it. You said you were allowed to look through the lens to see exactly what the photographer was seeing. You also used your own camera to take some shots along with the professional.

I saw you had listed your occupation as photographer. I wish I had been able to attend one of your shows in KC. I love the shots you took during the on a photo safari in the Costa Rican rain forest. Here's the photo that won second place in the Kansas City Star contest:

I still want to work on the project we discussed briefly around Thanksgiving 2006. I'd like to do photo transfers of some of your work to fabric I sew and maybe do some collages. I thought too of matting the photos with some of my fabrics. We'll see how it all goes now that I have a printer that will handle the work.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The back story

On July 25, 2007 Dan had a friend drive him to a bar in downtown Kansas City. At about 10:30 PM local time, Dan got out of the car, waited for the driver to pull away and walked about 15 minutes to a parking garage. On the top level - the seventh floor - Dan climbed on the wall and jumped.

At 5:00 AM the police came to mom's door and notified her. She called me and said the police were there looking for Dan. I lived at the back of her condo building so I told her I would be there right away. I grabbed my phone, called Dan and got his voicemail. I left a message saying the police were there, please call ASAP and asking "What the hell are you into? Let me know what I can do to help."

There was a knock on my door. A police woman was there. I told her to come on in while I grabbed my shoes. She came in and told me she had something to tell me before we went to mom's. That's when she told me Dan jumped. I looked at her and waited. She didn't say anything. I asked "Is he alive?" I was expecting to hear he was in the hospital in KC and in my mind I was already making plans to take care of him. The police woman said "No."

And that, my friends, is when the world crashed to a halt.

It still amazes me that no one else heard the crashing sound. No one else felt the earth slam on its brakes. How is it that people were still asleep and didn't know the world ended?

For the past 14 months I've been dealing with this loss and all the emotion and legal issues that accompany death. Sometimes well and sometimes not.

This is my life with and without Dan.