Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Dear Dan,

Merry Christmas bro! Of course I've been thinking of Christmases past. Mom and Dad used to go through Edmond Scientific's catalog One year you got a oil refinery that pumped colored water through the parts. Very cool. Another year you got a bubbler that worked by the heat of your hand. I was never able to get that to work. There was also a thing you held in your hand, scuffed across a carpet then touched to a door knob and the bulb lit up from the static. Pretty soon you realized it worked by touching people too and you started zapping us. I was able to get to work!

A number of years ago the old family ornaments were divided among the three of us. I wonder what became of the ones you got. I hope they were sold in the estate. I would hate to think they were tossed. I would have liked to have had the one Mom made with your name on it. I also wonder about the stocking Mom made that had your name on it as well. Then I realize I have the most important things: the happy memories. The things themselves aren't important.

I love you Danno.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas in Vermont

Dear Dan,

'Tis the season. Every time I hear the song "I'll Be Home For Christmas," I think of you. I wish you would be home or Christmas. And I guess you will be! Just not in the flesh.

I've been thinking about the Christmases you spent in Vermont with Nan and family. You certainly enjoyed those! I hope they know how much. You didn't like snow usually but you said there was something about Vermont that looked like Christmas should. Plus there were so many people around; lots of activity and noise. Also the way Christmas should be.

You would call mom and me separately on Christmas morning. You usually called  me early in the morning before the festivities began and the house was still quiet. The last time you were telling me about their old dog that would come lay his head in your lap and you would pet it. You sounded so nice, relaxed and at peace.

I think those Christmases were some of the happiest times you had in the recent years and I am so grateful to Nan, Fred, Jay et al.

I love you, Dan.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dr. Pepper

Dear Dan,

Thanks for stopping by! Nice to see you for at least a moment. You're looking great! Yes, I got the message and I know that it was one of "those dreams."  I watched John Edward enough to recognize a visitation when I get one.

I have two questions. Thanks for the Dr. Pepper but why did it change to cherry Dr. Pepper and then to cherry Pepsi? But it's good to know you still like Dr. Pepper the way you used to.

Second question -- you're not taking mom with you yet, are you? Please don't.

I love you Danno.

Friday, November 13, 2009

This is so you!

Dear Dan,

I saw this and thought of you right away. While the guy doesn't look like you, this is still a classic "Dan" move -- cat and all. If you were still alive, I would send it via email.

You're not, so I send it via blog.

I love you Danno.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Parking garages

Dear Dan,

The world is becoming overrun with parking garages. They are becoming the only available places to park. I have to face that fact.

I realized this shortly after you jumped. For the past 2+ years I have at various times parked in garages, always choosing the lower floors. There have been only two times I've been to the top and both times it was A) due to necessity and B) at a garage with less than 7 floors.

Now that am working back on campus instead of a downtown location I can usually park in a lot adjacent to the garage. However, several days ago I was a little later than usual. All the spaces in the lot were taken and I had to park in the dreaded garage.

I was lucky! There was a space on the ramp area between the 1st and 2nd floor. That meant one staircase and I was out. After work I would only have to go up the ramp and down again to get out.

If only it had been that easy! As I was walking to the garage after work I noticed I was having a bit of a panic attack. I was having trouble facing going into the garage but I couldn't figure out any other way to get the car out and go home. By the time I got to the car I was talking to myself, trying to talk myself into calming down. I could barely get the key in the lock to open the door.

I drove to the top of that ramp and made the turn to drive across that level to the ramp to get out. I almost didn't stop to look for oncoming cars. By the time I was at the exit I was gulping for breath and crying.

I guess I'm not as good with garages as I thought and I hoped I was. I wonder if I'll ever be able to park in a garage without thinking.

Did you know Scott can't go into a parking garage at all? Mom isn't much better.

Speaking of mom, she surrendered her license. She said she doesn't feel comfortable behind the wheel. Her mind wanders and she's afraid that she'll hurt or kill someone she she gave up her license and it was all her idea. I'm proud of her for that. I know you are too.

I love you Danno.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Dear Dan,

I was chatting with a co-worker today. He grew up here in town. He mentioned me to his brother and his brother asked if I was related to you. Pat said yes. The brother was apparently one of the people that was in the group you hung out with. More friend of friend than close personal but he remembered you well an with fondness.

Another co-worker was completing a video I did a voice over for. The man that was helping him asked who the narrator was. When told he asked if I was any relation to you.

Not long ago I was talking to someone in the political realm here in town. Once she found out my name she asked if we were related.

There you are. You are remembered. Everyone who asks me, asks with a little smile on their face. So you are remembered fondly!

I just thought you'd like to know.

I love you bro.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"My baby"

Dear Dan,

I was listening to a story on CNN about how hospitals are prohibiting children to visit because children are most susceptible to H1N1. It made me think of stories mom tell about when I was born. You and Scott were chasing through traffic in the hospital parking lot. Mom was scared to death that one of you would get hit by a car so she wouldn't let dad stay long.

Once I came home, you were still running all over, tearing up the house. You were our own little Tasmanian Devil. You could see a cyclone leaving a path of destruction and you were at the center. However, when you came to my playpen or crib, you would reach in, gently pat me and say "My baby." That was your one moment of calm. Then you'd continue on your path of destruction.

I wish for those days again when you were my big brother protecting me from the big, bad world. I wish for the days when I was your baby.

I love you still, my Danny Boy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy birthday, Danny Boy

Dear Dan,

Today would have been your 55th birthday. In a more perfect world I would be sending you a funny card to wish you a great day. This isn't a more perfect world so there's no card. There is, however, this blog.

So happy birthday, old man and never forget: You will always be older, no matter what.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Dear Dan,

You were (as a German friend of mine would say) a "sporty" guy. I was thinking about you as a chubby child. I never thought you were all that heavy but as you grew into teenage you were unhappy with your weight. You decided to take up tennis and to go on a diet. The weight fell off at the same time you fell in love with tennis. You had tennis lessons up on Prospect and played for years after that.

Once when I was in college I saw you on a summer day. You had stitches above your eyebrow. I asked about it of course. You said you did it playing tennis. I think you were playing with Fred. I said that I didn't know that tennis was a contact sport. You made some comment about never having played tennis with you. Of course you told me that you couldn't because I wasn't a good player and it would make your game crap. ::punches you in the arm:: Brat.

You had been winning. At one point you decided to put a backspin on the ball and whacked yourself in the face with the racket. Fred told you that you were fine. As you kept playing you started to lose. You raised your hand to wipe the sweat from your eye and your hand was red.

You: Fred, I'm bleeding!
Fred: just a little.
You: Why didn't you tell me?
Fred: You'll be fine.
You: Fred, I'm bleeding a lot!
Fred: You're fine. Just keep playing.

You finally talked Fred into taking you to get stitches. As I recall it took 4 or 5 stitches.

I giggle every time I think of you telling me that story.

I love you and miss you Danny.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fall is here

Dear Dan,

Fall is here and of course that makes me think of you. Why? Because everything does? Nope! Because you always loved that first snap of crisp fall weather.

As you know I'm a summer kind of girl but I must admit there is something very nice about September and, as a general rule, early October weather. The cooler days but not yet cold nights, days when a light sweater is enough to keep you warm, there's really something very nice about it. Maybe it's the not swimming in humidity every time I move. 

It's also the harbinger of the start of school. It wasn't the classes that were so great, but I loved the shopping for school clothes and school supplies. There's still something about school supplies that I love. That section of a store will drag me over every time.

The color of the turning leaves is always pretty but more than that I love the smell of burning leaves. Too bad you're not really allowed to burn leaves anymore around here. Every once in a while I still get lucky enough to pass a pile of burning leaves somewhere in the outlying area.

Your birthday at the end of the month was always fun when we were kids. Since yours often fell during the week, mom would bake a cake and take it to your grade school class. When I was young enough  not be in my own class, I used to tag along. The one cake that stands out is the turtle. I remember the black licorice she used to decorate the flippers.

Playing over in the barn in the fall was fun as well. There was something nicer about the barn in fall; I'm not sure what it was. Remember the red fox that lived in the area near that fallen tree next door? Walking through Elsie's "wilderness" on the other side and "fishing" from that rock, hanging over the old stump looking at the trout -- those were some of our favorite fall afternoon pastimes.

It was also around this time when we were in college that I baked the bread you loved. I baked before that but this is when you told me you loved the rye.

This is the time of year I think about our after school times together. These were the last lazy days of hanging out before cold weather set in. These are the days that remind me of you more than any other time of the year.

I love you and miss you more every passing day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Dear Dan,

My new office looks nice. The guys from OPP came and hung some of your photos for me. The truck photos have been very popular with people stopping by. It's funny -- some of the reactions -- since those are not girly photos. I also have the tri-fold with one additional photo sitting on my file cabinet. The frog at the preserve in Costa Rica and the carousel horse with the Eiffel Tower are on the bookcase. Above that are two more of your photos: the green door and the lion door knocker from The Dom. I also have the digital frame on my desk. It scrolls through a lot of the photos you took.

I'm thinking about making a print of Western Auto and framing that for in here too. I saved a few others for home -- like the women in the store window. I think I might also make a print of the stockings in Amsterdam for home as well.

I can keep you around me all the time. These photos make me smile.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Dear Dan,

Birthdays have always been difficult for me. For various reasons. But now that you're gone birthdays are much worse. No matter who forgot my birthday, you always remembered. You always sent a funny card and followed it up with a phone call. The last several years, of course, there's no call and no card.

I miss you.

I love you Dan.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Spread over years

Dear Dan,

There are a couple memories I have of you that developed over years. One is of a phone call in the night.

Dad was out of town (so when wasn't he?) and had not called that evening as he should have done. Mom was antsy. I think Dad might have been in Nam. That same evening I was expecting a call from Kathy but it never came.

Later that night while we were asleep, the phone rang. In my dream I heard mom saying it was for me. I woke up yelling "OK!" When I realize I had been dreaming, I laid awake listening. Your room was across the hall and I expected you to make some comment about my silliness. Nothing.

The next morning there was still no comment and I soon forgot about series of events.

That is until one Christmas after Dad died. We were sitting and talking about Dad's travels, especially during wartime. Mom brought up how he always called at the same time in the evening. There were a couple of times when he couldn't and those times made her very tense.

I told about that one call I remembered. You looked at me and said "That was you??" Apparently you woke from a sound sleep hearing "OK!!" and then heard nothing after that. You thought it was some part of your imagination that woke you up so you just giggled to yourself and went back to sleep.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Party at the Whites

Dear Dan,

Tomorrow is the second anniversary and I still can't believe you are gone. But as long as there are people who love and remember you I guess you aren't really gone. Also I believe your soul remains with us every single day.

One of the memories that remains is the party at the Whites. You were in grade school -- I think it was 3rd or 4th grade -- and the class was invited to the Whites for an afternoon party.

You were, as always, the center of attention, telling stories and cracking jokes. At one point you threw your head back as you laughed. That's when you cracked your head against the stone wall behind you.

So the party ended with you making a trip to the emergency room for stitches. It also gave the class clown/most popular kid a few more stories in his repetoire. That's my brother!

I love you Dan.

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July

Dear Dan,

A colleague came in and was telling me about his 4th of July. Amit is from India. His father is visiting so Amit decided to give him the 4th experience the way this town does it. He and his dad went to the top of the parking garage across from the post office. There they had a panoramic view of the town and the fireworks display. Amit suggested I do that next year.

That was a very nice thing for him to do but there is a problem. I don't do the top floor of parking garages unless absolutely necessary. I don't care how many levels there are, I don't do top level. The added problem is that this particular garage has seven levels. I know because I counted while sitting at the light one day. Forget the fact I try not to go to that post office because of the parking garage with seven levels is across the street. I have been able to park in the one with five levels and twice since that day in July two years ago, I have had to endure the top deck.

I guess in a way that was good because it made me realize just how determined you had to be in order to jump from there.

Still and all, I won't be watching the fireworks from any parking garage. Mom and I used to watch them from across the street from the apartment, just up the hill. But the trees have gotten too tall.

Maybe next year the ball game will be in the evening and I can see it from the ball park. Or I can go out by Wal-Mart.

I love and miss you Danny.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fifa finals

Dear Dan,

USA came in second in the Fifa finals! Their first time and they came in second to Brazil. Not too shabby on their part. It was amazing. The first 1/2 they were more cohesive than the second 1/2. I think partly because they realized they were beating Bra-f'ing-zil by 2 points and it shook them up.

Of course, Brazil came back with 3 goals and USA lost. But we have arrived and we are in it now!


Soccer, of course, made me think of you and your soccer days. I'll bet you were watching with me, weren't you?

I love you, Danny.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rob Thomas

Dear Dan,

Rob Thomas has announced a big tour. And guess what! I'm not planning to go!

At another time in another place I would have been planning on attending the East Coast shows -- at least the last five. But as I said -- in another time and place.

One of the worst things I deal with now is the thought of you on the ledge. What was going through your mind? What were your last thoughts. Did you suffer or was it quick? Did you lay there and lose conciousness or were you already gone?

Did you change your mind when it was too late?

These are the things that will send me into a downward spiral if I consider them for too long.

And what does that have to do with Rob Thomas?

The person I used to go to all the concerts, a person I considered one of my closest friends, was one of the people I called the day after. I did something very stupid myself. I told her I wondered if you changed your mind. She said "Yes, he did. People who survive all say they changed their minds."

How many ways does that not apply to you and your situation? 1) You didn't survive. You did it in such a way to guarantee you would not survive. 2) Your's was not an attempt. You wanted to succeed and you did.

3) You did not let on to anyone -- not your closest friends, not your family, no one -- that you were planning anything like this. Not a single person had been given any hints. You covered your plans so well that your closest friends started calling around to see who was the last to see you. They thought it was a murder and someone might have seen something. It wasn't until I told them that any of them knew it was suicide! And then no one believed it because there had been no signs.

And who says things like that to someone who has lost a loved one the way we lost you?!

So Rob takes the hit here. I've pretty much lost interest in going to concerts very far out of town and road trips for concerts are not something I want to contemplate.

So not your fault but just one more side effect of your suicide.

I love you bro.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Have you any idea?

Dear Dan,

Have you any idea what the later implications of your suicide have been?

First of all, at almost two years since the date, we still think of you every day. Every single day. When Dad died after a year or so I began to get used to the idea he was no longer around. But you -- never a day goes by that you are not part of the conversation.

Two nights ago, mom woke up and asked if I called her. When I said no, she started to cry because she realized she was having a dream about you and you were the one calling out to her.

Today, she used you as blackmail. "I already lost one child...."

For some reason I keep getting ready to pick up the phone and call you. Once was because I found an interesting website with family history. Of course that reminded me of the emails you sent with the site where you found grandad's military papers and the census records.

But all this is ok since it's better than the alternative -- which is not thinking about you every day.

I love you Danny.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Frog in the pool

Dear Dan,

There was a photo in the daily newspaper this morning that made me think of you. I stepped out to get mom's paper and there this was, looking at me. When mom saw it she showed it to me and asked if I noticed it. Then we both called your name.

CDT/Melissa Doss

These guys are installing a frog fountain in the new Park Forest pool. I want to see it once it's working. What a hoot! If we were kids we would be bugging (ha ha -- get it?? bugging) mum to take to the pool instead of the one we usually went to.

I think when we were kids this pool was a membership only pool and the only way to get membership was to live in Park Forest. Now I think it's open to anyone.

Looking at this photo and thinking about our summers at the community pool as well as the different ones in our backyard over the years really made me smile. All because of you. This was a good day.

I love you Danny.

Monday, June 8, 2009

"We are family"

Dear Dan,

A friend of mine and I saw "UP" this weekend. A very sweet movie that I think you would have enjoyed. The subject came up about family and what constitutes a family.

You and I talked about this years ago when Dan Quayle got into the whole "Murphy Brown" discussion. I've never subscribed to the whole "blood is family" theory. Nor did you. A family is a group of people you gather to you that may or may not be related to you by blood.

It was about that time that you were coaching soccer and your team was headed for a tourney in Ohio. You drove a group in a van. At a rest stop along I-80 a couple came up to you and asked if you were all related. Simultaneously the entire lot of you sang "We are family. I got all my brothers with me." The couple walk away backwards and slowly.

I would have chosen you as family even if we hadn't been born into the same one.

I love you Danny. ::smiles::

Friday, June 5, 2009

Lamb chops

Dear Dan,

Almost two years have gone by and you are still a topic of conversation and a thought every single day. You're still here and that's the way I want to keep you. I dread the time I look back over the day and find that you haven't been there. I don't want that to ever happen. I carry that around in the "what if" backpack. "What if" I thought of you as often when you were alive as I do now that you're gone. Would that have made a difference? I know the answer is "no" but the question is always there.

A recent thought was of the time you made lamb chops for me. I don't remember ever having lamb chops so you decided we should have them one evening. They smelled fabulous and I could not wait to sink my teeth into them. The chops looked magnificent as you pulled them out of the oven.

You served one to me. I cut it and took a bit. I stopped. Something didn't taste quite right. There was a taste I couldn't quite ... um .... wait. I know what that is! Joy! Lemon fresh Joy dish soap.

So I have to ask the question -- "Dan, what did you cook this in?" You showed me the baking dish. "Dan, where did you get the dish?" You got it from the sink. "Did you wash it out before you put the chops in?" No. All that was in there was water.

Not exactly. I had put the dish in the sink to soak earlier in the day. There was water and Joy detergent. When you looked, all you saw was water so it was good to go.

I laid on the counter and laughed so hard at that while youo stood there eating, telling me you didn't taste anything wrong.

That never fails to make me laugh, even now.

I love you Danny.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Harry Potter

Dear Dan,

I am waiting for the new Harry Potter movie and of course thinking of you. The very last conversation I had with you was about Order of the Phoenix. As usual we were describing scenes to each other again. You had seen it the weekend before, as had I. We talked about the scene in the Hall of Prophecies. I described it to you as "my IKEA nighmare." You knew exactly what I was talking about.

That was also the weekend my copy of "Deathly Hallows" arrived. I took that Monday off so I could read the book and work on a shower gift for a woman in the office. We talked about the book a little.

After your death, I received your phone. Brian had shipped it to me along with some other items. I read through your text messages. I'm not sure who you were talking to about "Deathly Hallow" but you asked about the lines at the store and if Harry lived.

He did ... you did not. And you knew at the time that you would not.

I love you and miss you more and more every day. This just isn't getting any easier.

Peace and as always, I love you, bro.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Odd moments

Dear Dan,

I don't remember what happened and what I was thinking just before but I was turning onto Blue Course and thought, "I'll have to call Dan and tell him."

Then, of course, I remembered.

I have your phone. It was sent to me shortly after your suicide, At first I looked through your texts and your phonebook. I listened to the voicemails and dealt with the calls. Eventually your account was going to expire. I wanted to hear the only sound of your voice still available to me -- your outgoing message. Sometimes I would call your phone just to hear the message.

"Hi. This is Dan. Sorry I can't talk right now but if you leave your name,number and a brief message I will get back to you."

I bought my Zen because it has a mic that I could record the message and keep it even after the Sprint account closed. I gave a copy to Scott, Harley, Tod and a couple of your other friends. Sometimes I still listen to it but I have your voice in my head -- and your laughs. I can hear them clearly.

I just wish I could hear conversation from you. I miss the inane talks about movies, bar-b-que and wildlife. I also miss being able to call you for advice but it really is the little conversation I miss.

Love ya, bro! I miss you always.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mom's remembrances

Dear Dan,

There are certain things I hear about from Mom every time your name is mentioned. Now remember, your name gets mentioned at least once every single day! So at least once every single day I hear this. And I must say, I love it!

When we were young and she would put us down for naps, she'd clean the bugs from your pockets, wash and dry your dungarees and have them ready when you'd wake up. However waking up implies going to sleep which is something that was very low on your list of priorities.

Before I was born there was one thing you would sleep through -- Bishop Sheen. At the time the Bishop had a 15 minute show once a week on TV. You would go to sleep as soon as his theme song would start and wake up as soon as his ending music started. That meant mom and dad would run around the apartment doing everything they had to do before you woke up.

At the time they didn't know you had a stomach ulcer and that's why you were crying all the time. You were hungry.

After I was born and you had long been on solid food you still didn't sleep. Mom said it was like you were wild. Grandmother and Granddad would come to visit. All Grandmother would do was sit on the couch and exclaim :: gasp:: "Oh dear!" ::gasp:: "Oh MY!" as you went spinning around the house like the Tasmanian Devil.

Where was Bishop Sheen when she needed him? Mom always thought about writing him to let him know about your nap time. She was sure he would get a laugh out of it.

If you think off it and if you see the good Bishop around, tell him, would you please?


Love ya, bro. I miss you.

Friday, April 17, 2009

John Madden

Dear Dan,

John Madden has announced his retirement. It got me thinking about the times you and I would sit with mom while she was watching the Raiders. This was back during Madden's reign, Lyle's ripping people's lips off, and the Raider's general dirty playing/intimidation tactics.

We used to get such a laugh when you would have a minor rant about John Madden's general slovenliness on the sidelines. Every other coach was calm and collected, dressed in suits; while John was raging and snorting, disheveled and hair standing on end, coat open, neck of the shirt unbuttoned. He was in a state of disarray. You hated that! You used to be fine watching the game but would cringe over the coach.

In later years you liked listening to him broadcast from the booth but his appearance never quite met you standards.

Thinking back on that give me one more reason to smile.

Love ya bro.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Throwing the stick

Dear Dan,

Mom and I were talking about something I think of a lot. Remember the time were were riding with mom over Seven Mountains? I guess we were going to Mamie's. You probably had an appointment with Dr. Rodriguez -- the one who fit you for leg braces, we were that young.

There was road construction just past Pot Likker Flats near Reedsville where the Missing Link used to be. We were waiting in a line of cars to go through. It was a hot summer day -- always! because in PA Road Construction Season falls between Summer and Fall -- so the windows were down. The flagman stopped mom, handed her a stick and asked her to give it to the guy at the other end of the construction.

Mom thought it was a joke. She tossed the stick into the field and said "Oh, you silly thing," to the flagman. He looked at her with a very mournful, yet shocked look and said "You threw away my stick!"

You and I yelled "MOM!" as she drove off and the flagman went to look for something else to give to the car behind us.

You had to explain to mom that because of explosives being used they had to turn off the 2-way radios. The stick was the way each flagman knew this was the last car.

Mom still can't figure out how we knew that and she didn't. Fur the umpteenth time I said "Who doesn't know that?" but I do wonder how we did and she didn't.

Love ya, bro!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's!

Dear Dan,

I don't suppose you could jump out from somewhere and yell that to me, could you?

Or call and say that?


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hair color

Dear Dan,

I thought of you the other day when I went to get my hair done. And not just because my stylist's name is Dan either.

Once you tagged me as the one in the family who changed hair color on a whim. It started in college when I would change my style or color when I was dissatisfied with something else in my life. Later it was just something I did when I felt like it.

Back in 2000, you let me use some of your frequent flier miles when I was going to Las Vegas for a matchbox 20 concert. You suggested mom come with me as far as Kansas City and stay with you until I flew back a couple days later. It turns out you were an mb20 fan as well. Who knew??

Anyway, you commented on my change of color when you picked us up. You drove us around KC, showing us the sights, having lunch, showing us your house, etc. That was a very nice little house and yard. The perfect size for both. You really did a wonderful job with the remodel!

It was a good thing this was pre-9/11 or I would never made the flight to Vegas. We miscalculated the time a little. You saw me off and had a nice visit with mom for a couple of days.

I only had a short layover in KC on my way back so I was just going to run and look for you for a short "hello goodbye and thank you"; then mom and I were going to grab the flight back to Baltimore where Scott would meet us to broing us home.

Apparently as you jumped from the car at curbside to run in to look for me, you asked mom "What color is her hair today?"

I laughed so hard when you told me that. I makes me smile to remember that moment.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Dear Dan,

I saw "Milk" this evening. It's brilliant and Sean Penn certainly deserved the Oscar for his performance. The movie was as hard to watch as it was to live through. Funny, the ending didn't change either. There were sweet and funny bits but Harvey still won the seat but ultimately died for who he was.

Of course all I could think of was your love of San Francisco. That led me to think a lot about you. The suicide and the deaths in the film made me wonder all over again.

It's a very bad night.

I miss you.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ventura Highway

Dear Dan,

I don't remember the year. Obviously after 1972; after Dan graduated from high school and possibly during his time working for Joe Ammerman. My best guess is sometime around 1977 - 1979. Dan went to California for some reason. I talked to him on the phone when he cam back. He rented a car, which turned out to be a Pontiac Ventura, and he drove down the Ventura Highway. America's "Ventura Highway" came on the radio. Dan laughed and told me he thought that was overkill but it gave him such a high. I think fondly of that moment so I put "Ventura Highway" on my Zen and Rhapsody playlists.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Dear Dan,

One day after mom had moved to New Jersey and you were still living at the house, I was ironing some of my laundry. You were going somewhere in a nice suit and tie. You asked if you could use the iron for a moment. I went on about my business on my side of the ironing board while you were ironing on the other.

We were chatting about stuff in general while you finished up. When you told me you were done, I put my hand around to start ironing again but, like an idiot, I didn't look at the iron. Both of us being right handed it was natural for you to put the iron down the opposite way that I needed it.

I burned my wrist. You were so upset when it blistered. I ran cold water on it and you got me some ice. I wasn't upset at all. Yes, it hurt but it was my own stupid fault.

And of course, you finally agreed with me on that point.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Joe on rye

Dear Dan,

I've been thinking of the time when you worked for Joe Ammerman. You had worked for him through his first term in Congress and were starting to gear up for re-election.

That fall I went through a period of baking bread and cookies. I had made a batch of biscotti that received less than rave reviews from you. I quite liked it but you -- not so much!

Later that week I baked some rye bread. You came in and had a bite. A few minutes later you came back in and asked if it was OK to take a loaf and give it to Joe. I was busy and not paying much attention. Out you went again for a few minutes and came back. At that point I asked "Joe who?

"Joe Ammerman, of course."

I just looked at you for a moment then said, "You MUST have thought that was good. You aren't about to poison you boss!"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration Day

Dear Dan,

You should have been here. You would have loved this one: the history of it, the pageantry, the camaraderie. I think you would have liked Lowery's benediction too. Say Amen!

I now you would have liked the music and Obama looks mighty fine in white tie, in a suit or in casual duds. Michelle is amazing and the kids are adorable.

You would have love the feeling of the day. There's a sense of hope but an understanding there is hard work to be done and it won't happen overnight.

It was a very good day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Schlow Library

Dear Dan,

Every morning as I come to work I pass Schlow Library. Every morning as I pass Schlow mom tells me that she thinks of us when we were kids and used to go to the library when it was on College Avenue.

Schlow started in a wonderful house owned by the Schlows (ergo the name.) There were back stairs and cozy corners to sit and read. It was a magical place. I remember one room in particular. Down one set of back stairs there was a small room with built-ins. The "Wizard of Oz" books were on a low shelf. I used to sit on the floor and read. When it was time to leave, you would find me in there and we would go down the next flight of stairs to the check-out desk.

Mom always gave us enough money for a soda and a phone call.

One day Dan and I had spent the afternoon in the library, got our sodas and Dan made the call. Unfortunately he called the wrong number with our last dime.

My mom got a call from some woman who was laughing. Mom was ready to hang up but the woman apologized and asked her not to. When she was finally able to speak, she told my mom that Dan had called her.

The woman told Dan she wasn't his mother Dan asked, "Does this mean you aren't going to pick us up?"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Parking garages

Dear Dan,

Such a simple thing: pull into the parking garage, find a space and park. Well, not any more.

I wonder if there will ever come a day when I can park in a garage and not think of what happened one evening in July in Kansas City.

On occasion I drive to work and have to park in a parking garage of some sort. McAllister's lot only has 2 floors; one metered and one permit. Since it's on the side of a hill it almost doesn't count as 2 levels. Pugh Street has 5 floors. I don't like to drive higher than the second floor if I can help it.

Mom doesn't like going into garages at all. Sometimes she has to sit and wait in the car while I run in some place for a few minutes. I try not to park in a garage when she's with me but there are times it's unavoidable.

Scott won't go near a parking garage at all. I was going to take Scott to lunch one day and said something about meeting him downtown. Scott said "not in the parking garage!" I asked if it was because of you. He said yes.

I told Scott that particular garage doesn't have 7 floors. I can tell him every building in town that has 7 floors and that garage is not one of them.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cleaning stalls

Dear Dan,

The summer we spent at Flynn's working in the bard while they were away was one pretty cool summer for me. You were driving on a complete license - not a Cinderella - and mom was spending time in NJ.

In the morning we would decide if I would go along with you to the farm or stay home. My choice. In the evening the same was true if you were going to Stern's farm for a swim.

That was the summer of the Eastwood Farms "ghost" - poor ghost, I can't remember his name now. It started as a piece of mail sent to the farm for a name that no one knew. Somehow that turned into a ghost. Then the tricks began.

One day Dave dressed in a goofy shower cap and a long rain slicker to scare someone stacking hay. We could hear the screams all over the farm.

Then one day you decided to scare me while I was mucking stalls and grooming the aisle. I had finished raking the aisle and hooked up the hose to water it down. I couldn't hear you sneaking up behind me until you got almost to me. I didn't let on I knew you were there. You grabbed my shoulder and spun me around. I still had the trigger of the sprinkler pulled.

As you walked out soaking wet from the the barn to your partners in crime, you told them "I forgot she had a hose in her hand." You laughed so hard about that.

You had such a good sense of humor when it came to laughing at yourself.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Almost smoked

Dear Dan,

I've been thinking about our summer at Flynn's farm. I've especially been thinking about a span of a couple of weeks during that summer.

Mom was back and forth to Media while Dad was working in that area. You and I occasionally went with her. The rest of the time we spent home and at the farm.

Jane and Dave went to a show one week. You and I were two who stayed behind to take care of the horses both there and at the neighbor's.

The day they were coming home we went down to feed the neighbor's horses for the last time. As we were pulling apart bales of hay I saw smoke coming from one and said something to you. At first we thought it might just be dust. As I pulled another bale apart I realized those bales were HOT! You came over and felt it. It was at that point we realized that the hay was baled wet and we had the possibility of spontaneous combustion on our hands.

Having seen that happen once before, neither of us had a great desire to see it again any time soon. We dashed around, grabbing bales, sticking our hands between the flakes and ripping apart the bales that were hot. We also ripped apart the hot flakes. Tthen we went around the stalls and took the flakes away from the horses. We didn't want any colicky horses on our hands!

The Flynns and their neighbors came home not long afterwards. The neighbors came up to bitch us out for making a mess of the barn. You told them what happened and said "If the barn had caught fire I would not have run back in to get the horses." That echoed exactly how I felt because I am deathly afraid of fire. Mr. Neighborman realized his error and thanked you.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Kill the pickle!

Dear Dan,

You loved all living creatures - which is but one reason your suicide came as such a nasty shock. While the first words out of my mouth as a child were "kill it; kill it; kill it!" you would protect that innocent, disgusting bug from becoming an itty bitty spot on the sole of someone's shoe.

If you were asked to kill a fly, you'd trap it and release it to the Great Outdoors. Same with a spider or other critters too awful to contemplate. When mom would put us down for naps, she'd do a load of our clothes. As she checked your pockets she found the critters to whom you had given refuge. From what I understand, you told mom it was too hot out for the poor beasties.

One evening we had gotten hoagies for dinner. As usual mom went back to the TV room afterward to watch Walter Cronkite. Did you know I take after mom and don't usually turn lights on while walking around at night? I know where everything is so if I'm not looking for some specific item, why bother?

Anyway, mom walked through the hallway and saw something wet and slimey looking laying on the floor. Apparently a slug got in - a hitchhiker on the dog perhaps? - and got as far as the back hall. Mom yelled for you to "killitkillitkillit!" You walked over and picked the damned thing up in your bare hands! EW!! You walked toward mom, holding the slug in front of you as you closed in on her. She backed into the wall, throwing her hands protectively in front of her, all the while yelling "killitkillitkillit!" That's when you asked "How do you kill a pickle?"