Saturday, December 24, 2011

That time of year

Dear Dan,

It's Christmastime again. Everything makes me think of you. "The Christmas Story" is on; I think of you. "Mr. Magoo's A Christmas Carol"; I think of you. Alister Sim "A Christmas Carol"; I think of you. "Hallelujah Chorus"; I think of you. Edmond Scientific, Christmas trees, Santa on a firetruck; I think of you.

You always loved Christmas. I would get depressed and you would be bouncing off the walls with excitement. I was so nervous about the choir concerts and you just couldn't wait. I don't know if you ever knew you were the reason I auditioned for the A Capella choir.

One year when I was in college, I wasn't going to have a tree. I was so depressed, you bought a tree for me and brought it over because you thought it would make me feel better. It did! I think that was the sweetest thing you ever did for me. That's sating a lot.

So wherever you are, know that I love you, Bro.

I miss you and I remember.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy birthday!

Dear Dan,

Happy birthday, my man! I celebrate the day you were born even if you are no longer here. This is a day that should be marked with parades and confetti; cake and festivities. And you should be here to lead the parade.

As a kid, you always loved your birthday. During your grade school years, mom used to bake cakes and bring them to school. I remember the turtle cake she baked. That was a particular hit. I, however, wasn't allowed to partake. I don't think I was in school yet. Mom took me to your class with her, put the cake and plates, napkins, etc. down and we beat feet out. She baked a regular layer cake for home, but I really wanted a piece of that one.

I guess I'll just have to get a cake and eat it all by myself -- unless you'd like to drop by and join me. No? Dammit!

I love and miss you, bro.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hello again

Dear Dan,

There's a movie called "Hello Again." Shelly Long's character is brought back from the dead by her sister, played by Judith Ivy. When Shelly reunites with her son and is talking in his kitchen, she looks around and sees some crate labels that used to belong to her. She says "You really kept me with you, didn't you?"

I wonder: if somehow you were able to come back and see the photos I've been able to keep, would you say "You've really kept me with you." Or would you sat "What are you doing with that stuff?"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Long time

Dear Dan,

Sorry I haven't written lately. I've been thinking about you all the time. We had a hurricane move through, followed by a tropical storm. I thought about our flight from Agnes. It's funny what you grab when you have to race for higher ground. After we knew the pets were safely settled in the car at the top of the hill, you and I had to make our decisions. What to take? You grabbed your entrance papers to Penn State and I grabbed my guitar and shampoo.

It was a little disconcerting that, with the dog and the rabbit in the back of the car, there was no room for us. You and I had to wait at a neighbor's house.

The 10th year anniversary of 9/11 made me think back to conversations you and I had at the time. You were in CA and I was in PA. I remember the panic attacks I had when I couldn't reach you. I knew you were mid-travel, but I didn't know where. So on the 10th anniversary, every time I saw a flag at half mast, I got a panic attack. Oy.

I guess you know about Facebook. I think it was starting when you were alive. It's been great reconnecting with people I knew as we were growing up. There's something bittersweet about it as well. There are some strange interactions that take place. Some make you remember fondly some incident from the past. Some make you wonder what the hell happened in the intervening years.

I guess I can say the same thing when I think of you. What the hell happened?

I love you, my brother.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I love you, Danny. I miss you.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Smile because it happened

Dear Dan,

The last Harry Potter movie is out. It's over; no more movies, no more books, no more scenes that remind me of you.

I wish you had been around for the last. I would have loved to talk about it with you. It's a brilliant movie and a fitting end to a brilliant series.

It's also the end of another connection between us. However, as Sirius Black said, "The ones we love never really leave us. We can find them here, in our hearts."

I also remind myself, "Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened."

I love you, bro.

Friday, June 17, 2011

It all ends

Dear Dan,

It All Ends.

I don't know how I feel about this. Aside from the end of the series and no more books or movies coming out, I mean. There's the connection we always shared throughout the books/movies. I hate that that will end, but in reality that ended July 25, 2007. I got your phone with your texts, asking friends if Harry lived or died. He lived; you died, and I would give the world if that could be reversed.

On July 15, 2011, the last film will hit the theatres. One more piece of life is moving on without you. It's one more piece of you I lose.

Just like life, yes it all ends. And just like life, doesn't it look exciting? I wish you were here to see this.

I love you, my brother.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Aunt Ruth

Dear Dan,

We just got a call from Uncle Bill. Aunt Ruth died this evening. I'm sure you've already greeted her; please say hello for me. Let her know how much she will be missed by those she has left behind.

She and Uncle Bill were childhood sweethearts. The only time they were apart was when he was in the service. Ruth was such a sweet and unfailingly kind woman. The past several years have been tough on them both. Arthritis crippled her hands so badly she has been unable to dress herself.

Now she will have full use of her hands again, Please hug Ruth for me.

I love you, bro.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Welch Pool

Dear Dan,

This weekend, the Welch pool opens for the summer. They completely renovated it. I have to say, the changing rooms look very much the same as they did when we used to go there. The pool itself -- you would not believe. There are so many splashy slides, fountains and toys that I was a but concerned. It didn't look like there was any place to actually swim any more. I didn't like the idea that Dr. Welch's assertion that every child should learn to swim was changed to every child should learn to splashy-splashy.

Some of my best memories of the two of us involved pools: the one in our back yard; the one at the hotel in Media, PA; the one at Stern's; and of course, the Welch pool. There were summers we spent nearly every day at that Welch pool. Most often it was you swimming with your friends and me swimming with mine, but we did all spend time on the lawn and at the concession stand.

It's nice to know that people will still have that available. It's not all just toddler splashy-splashy.

I love you, bro.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Y

Dear Dan,

I've joined the Y. You would not believe how the Y has changed since you helped bring it to SC! It now has a pool, a therapy pool, a rock climbing wall, as well as the fitness center and b-ball courts. I thank you.

I had my first therapy session there. That was great. My knee was sore afterward, but that's how therapy is. The only problem is finding a time the pool and I are both available that isn't 5:30 AM! No way I will get up that early. I could consider it in the summer but it isn't summer here all year round. I can tell that frozen winter hair would be worse the earlier in the morning I have it.

But anyway, thanks!

Love you and miss you, my brother.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bad Night

Dear Dan,

Two weekends ago was the suicide prevention walk. I wanted to walk this year but my knee isn't to the point that I can walk that far yet.

It started at Lubrano Park and ended there as well. I'm not sure how far they walked, but they came around by Land & Water, then crossed University Drive over near the skating rink, finally coming back by the Jordan Center. I don't know how far across campus they went.

I know the woman who organizes the walk. I used to work for her when I first temped on campus at Ritenour. That has to be at least 14 years ago. I don't know the story, except she has also lost someone she loves to suicide.

Tonight has been difficult. The cat's killing spree has me up. I cleaned up the bodies -- better now than waiting until it's light -- and I can't get back to sleep.

So of course, I'm thinking of you. When don't I think of you?

I haven't seen you since that last dream when you told me you were going away. I guess you really were. Well, these are my letters to you. I hope they reach you wherever you are.

I think I'll go read my Kindle for a while. I won't be sleeping any more tonight anyway.

I love and miss you more every day.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Dear Dan,

Crocodile sighs
Crocodile cries
How will he wipe all the
Tears from his eyes?

That was your favorite little ditty that we learned to play on the piano. At the end of each practice session, you would play that. It didn't matter that you progressed beyond that rank beginner stage; that was your closer. I wonder if you thought of that when you took this photo.

Funny, this croc has the same little smile on his face that you got on yours when you played that song. Coincidence? I think not!

I love and miss you, bro.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Dear Dan,

You had your own language when you were a toddler. I don't remember it since I either was not yet born or an infant at the time. It is, however, part of family history. "Peeame," "umfunger," "wadipot" and "ginkamuk,"were just a few of the words that had to be interpreted by the family unit.

Dad and Scott thought it was cute. Mom was worried that you would never learn to speak properly. When she spoke to Dr. Welch, he said if Dad and Scott kept speaking your language, you never would learn to speak theirs. Grandmother and Granddad just thought you were an alien. Okay, so they weren't far off the mark.

I guess it wasn't until you were in school that you finally began to learn English as it is spoken around these parts. "Peeame" was "piece of meat." "Umfunger" was "air hammer." "Wadipot" was "lollipop."

What of the ever-popular "ginkamuk?" Ah, that, my brother, isn't family history; it is Family Legend!

Dad, mom, Scott and you were coming back from a visit with Grandmother and Granddad in Camptown. Dad was driving, Mom was in the front seat with a migraine, and you and Scott were in the back seat. You sat behind Mom, tugging the back of her seat. You rocked back and forth, saying "Ginkamuk, ginkamuk, ginkamuk," in a rhythmic sing-song.

Finally, you blew the buffer Mom's very low tolerance limit. She turned around and yelled, "It's 'drink of milk.' M--I--L--K--MILK!"

You slumped back in the seat and said, "m--oo--k--muk."

To this day, Mom isn't sure if that was backtalk or if you were trying to correctly repeat what she said.

And to think, in later years, you graduated from Toastmasters and had a career in local politics. 

I love you, bro!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ice skating

Dear Dan,

It snowed again. Ugh. We haven't gotten much this winter but a single flake is one flake too many. Don't you find it funny that neither you nor I like winter and snow, but we loved ice skating.

You and I got ice skates one Christmas. We couldn't wait for the creek behind the house to freeze over so we could skate. The great thing about skating on the creek was that Mother Nature built in a Zamboni. Late in the day, after we spent the entire day out there skating, the ice would sink a bit. You and I used to stand together and watch the water flow down, making the ice smooth for the next day.

There came a year that, for the first time in our short memories, the creek didn't freeze. That was the year we learned about the temperature at which polluted water will freeze.

One year the borough put an outdoor rink in a run-off reservoir. We skated there, and then would go to the Village Dairy to get a hot beverage while we waited for our ride. That was open for only one year.

Another place we skated was a pond across from a friend's house. I don't remember what industry was next door to it, but they dumped something (toxic, no doubt) into the pond that made the ice pink. The older kids in the friend's family would test the ice to make sure it would hold all of us. They would build a barrier so we wouldn't get too close to the unfrozen side.

Of course the favorite place to skate was the rink on campus. You took lessons for a while and learned to do a snowplow stop. You used that at every opportunity to spray the rest of us with ice shavings. Boys!

By that age, you were too cool by then to let your sister hang out with you. However, when the Zamboni came out, you and I would lean against the railing and watch together as it went around.

I would give anything to stand beside you now, watching a Zamboni.

I love and miss you, my brother.