I've had many doubts and many questions these past 13 years, but the one thing I'm certain of is that he would have been just as excited for his 60th as he was for his 50th, which unfortunately he didnt live to see. He was the only person I ever knew who was actually excited to be turning 50. We were in the midst of planning the big Five-O party. Unfortunately he came up exactly 90 days short.
I think he loved his birthday for two reasons. One, he knew too many people who weren't afforded the opportunity. And two, he was a big kid at heart. Anyone who knew him, knows that. He was the adult at Christmas who made sure all the kids toys "worked" properly. He played army men with his little brothers well into his teenage years.
But I think my favorite is depicted in this picture.
A little background. We had a pool in our backyard. Every kid within two blocks would be in our backyard every day of the summer. When they would get bored in the pool, Dan would organize them into teams and they would play good guys vs bad guys. If you grew up in Lawrenceville, you know that between every few streets there are series of little alleyways between the streets, alleys and yards. It's like a maize. They would run through the alleyways and try to catch the bad guys. I took this picture from my back deck. Dan, in his swimming trunks, with one of my kids robocop helmet on. Trying to squirt a "bad guy." The best part is that he is also wearing his bedroom slippers.
Another time he thought he broke his leg when he slipped running and yelling "charge" with a plastic sword in his hand. We were in the emergency room and the Dr asked if he hurt his leg playing soft ball. I made Dan tell him what he was really doing. I'm sure all in the physicians lounge had a good laugh that evening.I wish I would have found the picture of him using a batman beach towel as his cape. But I think you all get the idea.
They say everyone is a kid at Christmas. Dan was a kid the other 364 days of the year also. I'd be lying if I didn't say it sometimes drove me crazy.
Soooo many things unfinished. I still needed him to help raise our boys. They didn't want mean ol' mom. They needed calm, cool dad. Who would iron their clothes???
What I do know is that there is 48 peoples whose lives were enhanced because they were able to use various parts of his body. Some may think that strange. But I find comfort knowing that maybe the cornea from his eye is helping someone to see their grandchilds smile for the first time. His beautiful Irish skin was used to help a burn victim Or his heart valves helped a father of four with serious heart issues and without those valves, he would die. One of his tendons might have helped someone walk without pain by repairing a torn ACL. And his brain. That perfect perfect brain that held more information in 49 3/4 years than most us could learn in ten lifetimes. The brain that remembered every word to every song ever written but had to remember our addresses and phone numbers in relation to Steelers jersey numbers. In his wallet I actually found a piece of paper that simply said Jack Lambert and Mike Webster. I asked what it was. He said our phone number! (Like I was crazy for not knowing!!)Their Steeler jersey numbers were the last four digits of our phone number. He always got them confused so that's how he remembered. That brain was used for research. He had all the qualifications for a study that Pitt was doing. They probably looked at it and said WTF???
So if someone corners you tomorrow and starts talking Civil War statistics, tell him happy birthday. He might look at you strange. But he also may be seeing you through my husbands beautiful bue eyes. The same eyes looking with wide eyed wonder in this picture below.