Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Dear Dan,

As they do every Christmas, TBS is running back-to-back "A Christmas Story." I saw it once and never really got into it. You, however, dear brother, you would watch it every year and several times during that marathon, I believe! Something about that kid in the snow suit, I think. That was the funniest part for me. It looked so familiar. You used to laugh so hard over that Santa and slide part.

Did I ever tell you I thought your sense of humor was a little warped? lol

I love and miss you, bro. I hope you are having a very happy Christmas. Big hugs to you. Can you see me smiling at you?

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Dear Dan,

I've never figured it out. I've always got headaches. I don't remember a day when I was headache free.

But YOU! When we were kids, you'd complain of a severe headache, open the bottle of aspirin, maybe even put a couple tablets in your hand. Then, as if by magic, your headache was gone. You'd out the aspirin back in the bottle and be on your merry way.

So unfair, brat!

Love ya and miss ya, bro!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Leaf throwdown!

Dear Dan,

It's a wild autumn day out there today. Autumn was always your favorite season. Maybe because your birthday was in the fall. This day is windy, some sun, some clouds, some rain, some branches -- a little bit of everything.

Plus -- the Leaf Throwdown! Sunday, while it was still sunny, two trees next to the parking lot were dropping leaves. First one tree dropped its leaves; then the other tree dropped its leaves. It looked like they were in competition with each other. All that was needed was a rake and the two of us jumping into the freshly made leaf pile. You and I would do that for hours when we were kids. I think that is one of my favorite childhood memories of us.

You would  loved the weather of these past several days.

I love and miss you, bro.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This one was upsetting

Dear Dan,

The dream wound around the way dreams do, but the upshot was that you needed $22,000 for a plane ticket to Australia. You were taking a job there. Yes, that's way over the real amount of a plane ticket to Oz, but this was a dream, remember?

So I'm scrambling trying to figure out how to get the money together for you. Suddenly, I stopped, turned and looked at you.  I said, "This means I'm never going to see you again, doesn't it?" You just stood there, but acknowledging what I said. I hugged you and said "But I need you in my life." You hugged me back and said we would think of something.

I woke up crying. It felt like you were saying you wouldn't be allowed to even occasionally visit in my dreams. It felt like I was losing you all over again. I don't want to hold you back, but please don't leave me. Unless you absolutely have to.

Sooo not a good way of starting a day -- sobbing.

I still love and miss you, bro.

Monday, October 25, 2010

PT Cruiser

Dear Dan,

Today I parked next to a PT Cruiser in the parking garage. Did I tell you I moved to the one closer to my building? Yep, I'm in garages and parking all the way up on the second or third floors! Woohoo! Big step for me, huh?

Anyway there was a PT Cruiser and I parked right next to it. It was the same blue as yours was. I was looking at it and thinking of you.

You were so proud of that car. It was one of the first PTs off the assembly line. People would cross several lanes of highway, just to pull up beside you and honk or take a picture. People crossed and stood in front of the car at red lights; then they didn't notice that the light turned green. Once a cop pulled up behind you and you thought you were going to get a ticket for impeding traffic. He just walked around the car and gave you the "thumbs up." Mom still talks about the two kids that offed you money to drive them home.

The Cruiser was the first car mom has been able to identify. Even now she screams, "There goes a red one!" -- or whatever color it happens to be.

I just sat there for a few minutes, next to the PT Cruiser, thinking of you.

I love you, bro.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wearing purple

Dear Dan,

As promised on Facebook, I'm wearing purple. In remembrance of those kids who committed suicide recently.

Truthfully, I'm also wearing it for you. Purple was never one of your favorites. I think it was aversion therapy from when I was little and everything had to be purple. You know the color I'm talking about -- the blue purple; not the red purple. I was so particular!

I can see you rolling your eyes and groaning "Purple. Did it have to be purple?"

So this purple is for you, bro.

I love and miss you!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

You're not immune, either, bud!

Dear Dan,

Your birthday was on the 28th. Ok. I wrote a small post to you. I also happened to be at the grocery and saw a woman once I worked for. Last spring, she sent me a notice about a walk for suicide prevention. While I wanted to go on that walk, I was, in fact, not walking well at that time. She said she will be sending out a notice again this year.

She and I chatted about the ones we loved and lost to suicide. As you know, there isn't a single day that goes by that I don't think about you.

I go home. Part of my job now is to distract mom on the anniversary of your birth and of your death. The day passes without mom or me mentioning your birthday to the other. I thought "Good! I did my job well today."

On the 29th while I'm in the shower getting ready for work, mom calls out "Isn't today Dan's birthday?" "Yesterday was, mom."

See. You are not immune to momism. She did that to me the year before last. So there!

Love ya, bro!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy birthday Danny Boy

Hugs and kisses.

I love you, bro.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Again, in my dreams

Dear Dan,

You called last night. In my dream, my cell phone rang and it was your voice. I don't remember the words, but I remember understanding that you were someone who knew the family and knew about the suicide. I recognized your voice. Parenthetically, I can still hear your voice in my mind.

I asked who it was calling. You said, "Dan. No! Not that Dan." I remember telling you yes, you were that Dan. I told you how much I miss you and love you. You told me I was wrong; it wasn't really you. I believe language might have entered the conversation at that point. Specifically the word "bullshit." I will never forget the sound of your voice.

You told me you were fine, alive and happy. You just had to get away from everything in your life. You wanted me to know the truth.

This is where the dream took a turn. I started debating if I should tell anyone. I knew if you told me, you were trusting me to keep your secret. But it would be wrong to let mom think you were dead when you weren't. She wouldn't tell anyone, would she? What about Scott? No, Scott would tell someone and it would be all over.

So how did that work? There was a body that the police found. At the morgue, there would have been an autopsy -- I know there was because I talked to the coroner. There was no doubt of the identity; that wasn't the reason for the autopsy. But if it wasn't you, who was it and how did they get your ID?

That is the reason for my headache that started last night and continues today. Thinking too much in the dream.

The side effect of thinking about dead bodies is the dream turned into a cheesy, funny, slasher movie -- just like the kind we used to watch together. One person's head was cut off; someone else lost an arm. A parking garage was involved somehow. Since I dream in technicolor, I could see some of the blood was not ketchup. It was mustard.

Soooooo yeah! Great talking to you. Please let's do that again soon. Too bad the stuff in the conversation wasn't real. Good thing the rest wasn't!

I love and miss you, Danny.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Grange Fair

Dear Dan,

It's Grange time again. Last evening I went there with a friend. Of course I thought of the summers when we would visit the fair. Mom would drop off you, me and Mary Lou for the afternoon.

We'd walk around, eat, look at the "animules" and ride the rides. I liked walking through and looking at the animals -- especially the horses, of course.

I remember there being a lot more rides back then. The layout of the fair was different then as well. The rides took up more space over at the one side of the fair. Food and games were in the center; pigs in the back. Now, the pigs, food and games are all sort of mixed together. The rides are split into two areas, separated by animal barns and food. The commercial and competition buildings are still in the same places. Pickles might have moved one building over.

When we spent the afternoons there "unsupervised," we were in late grade school and early middle school. By the time Mary Lou and I hit middle school, she and I moved our separate ways.

Parents  can't let kids that age run around alone today. There would be too much possibility of someone abducting them.

One year you drove Kathy and me to the Grange. That must have been your senior year in high school. The Grange was a political opportunity for you by then. No more rides for you, buddy! It was all eating and shaking hands. The animal barns were still the place to see and be seen. So was the Democratic Party tent and the Ammerman tent, of course. That part hasn't changed, especially in an election year.

So a I was walking through the fair last evening, there was a nice feeling of continuity. Back at the fair, walking with a friend who grew up in Lemont, eating the same types of food and looking at the goats.

Just like my life, some of the fair has remained the same; some bits have shuffled around; some bits are missing. But it's all still there in my memory, just like you are.

I love you, bro.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Dear Dan,

Last night I was watching "Wipeout." I could hear you laughing right alongside me. Since it was family night," of course I thought of us as a team competing. A) We'd laugh so hard we would have a tough time actually getting through the obstacle course or B) We'd be beating each other senseless for option A.

I'm betting on option A.

Then I watched "Shaq vs." One of the bits was boxing so of course I wasn't interested. The other part was Penn & Teller so of course I was! Again, I thought of you. After all, it was Penn & Teller. And it was Vegas, baby!!!

Now, the question is: There was so much you loved and laughed at, so wtf happened? Sorry. Same old question and still no answer.

Ah, well. You will give me an answer sometime in the years ahead.

Love ya, bro. I miss you

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25

Dear Dan,

Wish you were here.



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

School days

Dear Dan,

I was writing on my other blog about my cat eating my underwear and I remembered us in school. Odd connection. Yeah. I know.

Remember the old "my dog at my homework" days? It's sort of a new twist on that theme.

Anyway, back to you and school. You would be amazed at the Delta Program. That's what they call the old "Alternative Program" you helped to start. It's no longer for the "misfits." It's for the brainiacs, artists and those in need of a little extra guidance. Really for those kids not on the mainstream college or VoTech tracks.

They have taken over the old Fairmont Ave. school. I guess they do a good job at filling it. I probably should have gone to a school like that. Did you have me in mind when you got on board with it? Your airy fairy sister.

You would have benefited with a curriculum like the Delta Program has, but you were much too social. There were places for you to fit in all over the regular school. Once they finally let you read about business, finance and politics, your reading skills came way up. You weren't interested in all that fiction crap the schools forced you to read.

You had a brilliant imagination but you hated reading fiction. Such an odd kid!

Love ya anyway, bro. I miss you so much.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I watched that again the other night and thought about you. Big surprise, huh? I went into mom's room and turned her TV to the channel during out 'Ikea Nightmare' scene. I told her about our last conversation and that scene.

There is rumor that I'll be able to get the Harry Potter books as eBooks soon. That means as soon as I download them to my Kindle, the dead-tree books get sent to the AAUW.

Except for Deathly Hallows. I think I'll keep that DTB. When I got your cell phone, I saw most of your text messages those last days were about Deathly Hallows.  That was also part of our last conversation on the Monday before. That book stays.

AAUW opens again on the 21st and I have a stash ready to take out there. That Kindle is something else. I have always been a compulsive reader but now I'm even more so. I think you would have enjoyed reading on a Kindle too. Even if you read mostly boring books. j/k

The new season of True Blood begins this week. The 2nd season gave me another "I have to call Dan" moment. Eric sees two kids Sam brought to Fangtasia. Eric said "Look! Little humans. They're just like real humans, only smaller. They're teacup humans!" I reached for the phone before I remembered you wouldn't be on the other end.

Those moments don't happen often anymore, but they do happen. It's a jolt.

But I think you would have laughed over that line. Maybe you did as you watched it with me. Or not.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lena Horne

Dear Dan,

I guess you know Lean Horne died this week. I remember when you and some friends went to see her with Tony Bennett at the Minskoff. That place is huge. The only tickets available were up in the last row of the last balcony.

The usher led you up and up and up until you you were at the top. As she motioned to your seats you said "Can't we go any higher?" The woman sitting in the end seat nudged her husband and said "Did you hear that? 'Can't we get any higher?'" and she almost fell out of her chair laughing.

Keep them laughing and say "hi" to Lena for me.

I love you, bro.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Never about the stuff

Dear Dan,

I've been looking through some of my stuff. It's been making me think about stuff in general and specifically the stuff we leave behind.

When you left, you left behind an entire house of stuff. Because to the "state of the estate" most of your bequests could not given out. Some were so small that it didn't make a difference to the estate and were solely sentimental bequests. Those went wherever they were meant to go.

I think about Harley and Brian. Harley was out of town. Brian went over and got some things out that you requested to go to specific people. Harley had to deal with most of the rest.

I was given photos that were on your refrigerator and some Brian had that you shot.

Harley had most of your house sitting in his garage for quite some time. I was so sorry I couldn't get out to KC to help him handle it all. But I was stuck in SC because of money and trying to handle things on this end.

I talked to Harley about a year ago and asked if he still had all your stuff in his garage. I think the poor man thought I was going to ask him for something. He very apologetically told me that most of it was gone; sold to settle the estate. All I was concerned about was that I would go to KC and help him hold a garage sale, if necessary.

So the stuff: I am overjoyed that I got the photo of you picking up the cookies from the floor. I talk to it/you a lot. The photo is in the kitchen -- appropriately, I think. Other than that, it's just stuff.

I think about some of the stuff and wonder what happened to it: the letter, response and obituary of Roger Chaffee, the Oscar fish you had mounted, some of the frogs. I remember the places you had them in the different apartments or houses where you lived. And I wonder, too about what is there now in those apartments and houses.

In the end, it's all just stuff. You aren't in the stuff; you aren't part of the stuff; you aren't remembered because of the stuff. You are in the hearts of the people you touched and you are remembered in the minds of the people who love you.

That's the way it is for all of us and the way it should be. I think I need to go clean out my stuff.

I love you and miss you, my brother.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Peachey's, Red's and Scott

Dear Dan,

See what you left me with?

Scott called last night and asked if I wanted to take mom to Brownie's for Mother's Day. He knew it wasn't Brownie's but he couldn't remember Red's.

Brownie's is the bar as you come down the mountain to Spring Mills. Mom and I stopped there once for lunch and tea. It wasn't bad for a bar that serves sandwiches. However, Red's is where mom spent a lot of time when she was growing up.

I tried giving Scott hints -- think primary colors, do you still watch the Red Green show -- but he wasn't getting it. This is what you left me to deal with??? j/k!

Peachey's burned Wednesday night/Thursday morning. The still don't know the cause but it's a total loss. They don't know if they will rebuild. Such a shame! I used to take mom over there once a month or so. There were all sorts of spices and old-fashioned candies you can only find there.

I got my chair over there a couple weeks ago. Mom and I went one day and I paid for it. A'ndi took me over in her jeep the next day to pick it up. One of the photos from the fire had several benches -- my chair as a double wide -- and I was thinking about how lucky I was to get it then.

So now I guess we take rides to Jack's Mountain and then lunch at Red's or The Whistle Stop.

But I will miss Peachey's.

Love ya, bro. Miss you all the time.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Remember Me" -- The Movie

Dear Dan,




What a wretched movie. Slow. In need of editing, better acting -- what the hell was up with Pierce Brosnen? -- and don't get me started on 9/11 ending! I felt that was totally contrived and being contrived made it hugely disrespectful.

Robert Patterson. Ugh. He wasn't very good in Goblet of Fire but at least he wasn't on screen much. Twilight was bad but I wasn't the target audience. He just isn't improving. Can the man do anything but brooding, young adult angst? Apparently not.

So this guy is writing to his brother who committed suicide. Fine. Tattooed his brother's name on his chest. Fine -- don't expect that from me, but fine.

Then it all goes terribly pear-shaped. I sat through the first love scene debating with myself what I should have for dinner. During the second one, my friend leaned over to me and asked if this was the longest movie I ever sat through.

Now I have to spend time apologizing to taking her to that movie for her birthday. Not a nice way to treat a friend, taking her to a movie like that!

The whole "just as things start to go well, he's in a Twin Tower at the time the plane hits" was a lit match thrown into gasoline moment for me. Do you have any doubts as to how I reacted to that?

I love you; I miss you. I wish we could discuss movies in person again. But if you can see movies wherever you are,  take a pass on "Remember Me."

Love ya, bro.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What you missed by leaving early

Dear Dan,

I've been watching movies and thinking about the bits you would have loved. Then I started thinking about other things you missed in other areas.

Here are some tings you missed by leaving early:
I think you would have loved the Obama campaign -- primary through election. Some of the things that have happened since -- stalling and dragging of feet by the opposing Party --  would have made you as crazy as it's making me, but I know you would love this man's grace under pressure.

Monsters vs. Aliens -- The president playing "Axel F" from Beverly Hills Cop. Steven Colbert as the president, Link, Dr. Cockroach and B.O.B would have had you rolling on the floor.

Avatar -- You would have been in love with the visuals as much as I.

Alice -- Another film and 3-D you would have flipped over. The rumor about HP - Deathly Hallows 3-D would have you pondering.

Ahmadinejad's trip to Columbia and his statement. 'Nough said.

I think you would be proud of mom and me, dealing with some of the things we've dealt with since you've been gone. I think you would be happy with how we've handled the apartment.

You would be very excited about Mac technology -- including the iPad.

And e-books. We would have had some good discussions about the technology.

I think you would be pleased to see the photos of the technique I was talking to you about -- the way we can possibly blend our crafts and talents.

You left the party too soon, my brother. Way too soon.

I love you, Danno.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Your photos

Dear Dan,

I've been looking at your photos. Of course I have since they are all over my office.

The car photos get a lot of positive comments. But of course! You took them. A'ndi keeps threatening to steal the triple frame. I keep threatening to steal her Kindle.

I love your photos. I know I've said it before but it bears saying again. I am so greedy for them. I was hoping Brian would have found more on your computer. I'm still thinking about how to do the weaving/photography combo I was telling you about. The first step is to practice the technique on something else and then on handwoven fabric.

I look at the photo of the lion doorknocker and I think of the day we exchanged lion pictures. Mine was from the Cloisters and your was from the Dom. I thnk of the conversation and the emails. That was a good day.

I love you, bro.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Dear Dan,

Rule #1: Sometimes people die.

Rule #2: Death cannot be cured.

Rule #3: Doctors cannot change Rule #1 or Rule #2.

I know that. This is the 22nd anniversary of Dad's death. Sometimes it feels like this happened a moment ago and sometimes it feels like an eon ago. I think of where you were and what you were doing, where I was and what I was doing, how we were told, etc.

This is one more reason I've been feeling weepy recently -- aside from what I posted on my other blog.

So this year I'm toasting dad's life and your life. Hopefully, the two of you are together and have talked it all out.

I am going to think about Alex. Her birthday is today and it's a happy thing -- for me if not for her. I'll send her a card and be happy for the fact that she was brought into this world. I am lucky to have her as a close friend, even though we don't see each other.

I am going to spend some time doing something for A'ndrea. She won't get a chance to shovel her own walk and we don't want her getting fined. Doing this -- as much as I hate the snow -- will be a way of expressing thank for her being such a good friend as well.

I am determined to get away from the weepies and make this day better in thanks to all those I am thankful for having in my life, no matter how transient it all might be.

Thank you for having been on this planet for 52 years.

I love you and miss you, bro.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thursday, it was the cat

Dear Dan,

Only "yesterday," it was you! On Thursday mom woke up in a panic. She had been napping. When mom woke up, she was pretty disoriented. She couldn't think where she was, where she needed to be, if I had gone to work or where the cat was. She realized I had gone to work and the 4:00 on the clock was 4:00 PM, not AM.

But was the cat in or out?

Always a good question because the cat plays the "in and out" game. Alex said they have a saying in Germany: The cat is always on the wrong side of the door. That describes Miss Iggy down to her toenails.

Mom look in all the usual places: under the computer desk, behind the chair in front of the big plant, on the chair in front of the big plant, in the closet, on my bed, on the two chairs in the living room, in the corner in  front of the window, on HER bed and no Miss Iggy to be seen. She tried calling and of course there was no response.

Finally she looked behind the curtain. There was Miss Iggy, sound asleep.

Legend has it that the same thing (or nearly so)  happened with you. Mom woke around 4:00 one morning with her "mom sense" telling her that something was amiss. She got up and checked all the beds. Scott was in his, I was in my crib, Dad was on the road as usual and you were ... MISSING!

She started the search though the house. She called; she checked the doors and found they were still locked. No Dan.

By 4:30 she was ready to lose her mind and about to call the cops. But what could she tell them? You were missing from a locked house? That the only people who had keys were either in the house or out of town?

Then she saw the curtain move, very slightly but it moved. She yanked the curtain back and there you were, standing on the window sill. You said you were waiting for the milkman. That was all the explanation she ever got from you. Why you didn't come out to see what all the fuss was about and why you didn't once respond to you name being called remains a mystery to this day.


I love you, bro.

Monday, January 18, 2010

George's eyes

Dear Dan,

This past weekend I went to see "Up In The Air." Once again I was struck by the similarity of George Clooney's eyes and yours. You both have big brown, very expressive eyes with long, luscious lashes. There were moments in the movie when his smile didn't quite reach his eyes. Other times there was that twinkle -- just like yours!

In this movie, George had a job similar to the one you had with Sprint years ago. The sales and motivational one. You didn't go around the country firing people but George had a job where he was rarely home.

Then came the point where he wanted to have a place to call home and not be so "transitional." That made me think of you even more. The house in Kansas City was your pride and joy.

Needless to say, I came out of that movie very depressed. I think from now on I will watch George only in comedies.

I love you, bro.