Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Tribute To My Brother Dan On His Birthday

Dan and I, circa 1963

Today is my brother Dan's birthday.  He would have been 52. And next week is my birthday. This year, just as it has in other years, it has brought up so many thoughts and emotions for me. Thoughts and emotions that most of the time, I suppress. If I feel them bubbling up, I try and push them back down. After 21 years, they are still too painful to think about.

In January 1990, just two weeks after Christmas, my brother died. My only brother, my only sibling. Leaving me, at 28, an only child. When he died, he took with him all our childhood memories. Who else remembers things the way a s
ibling can? I have no one else to say "Hey remember when'" to. No one else that recalls our childhood. And now, no one else to help me care for our elderly parents. No one to share  the responsibility with.  And God knows, I was never the responsible one.
Dan was in the Navy, and had been stationed in Bahrain, a place that few had heard of at that time.  This was before the Gulf War, and he had been there for some time. Being a Navy incident, we never got many details, and being family isn't enough reason for the military to tell us everything they know. We have had to accept that. All we know is that it started with a phone call, telling us he was dead.  He had been home that year for the Holidays, someth
ing that was very rare, as anyone in the military knows. It was one of the best Christmases we have ever had.
New Year's Eve was awesome too.

Before he was sent to the Middle East, he was stationed in Pensacola Florida. He was a Search And Rescue Instructor, and received many awards for Air Sea Rescues.

Pensacola was where he bought his home, and we loved to go visit him there. He loved it too! My children were very young when he was killed - Steven was only 6 months, Rick was 2 and Patti was 6. So Patti is the one who remembers him best. Dan was really close with her, always taking her for rides in his convertible, buying her HUGE stuffed animals, and he always told her that when he retired, he was going to open a restaurant and call it Hamburger Patti's. Dan never had children of his own, and loved mine, spoiling them and treating them as though they were his own. When my son John Michael died, Dan was right there for me, my big brother who could fix everything except the unbelievable agony and pain of losing a child.

So many memories of Dan are tied up in things in my life, which makes it even more difficult to think about him. Our birthdays were 2 years and one week apart (the 9th and the 16th) and we always celebrated them on the Sunday in between. So even my birthday has a cloud of sadness, celebrating one birthday instead of two.  And this year, as I turn 50, I know he would have teased me unmercifully.  But he would have also gotten me an awesome gift and told me he loved me, despite the Over The Hill jokes I know I would have born the brunt of.

Anyone who has lost a sibling can  understand my pain,  pain I feel both now, and in the future. Because the pain comes and goes, unexpectedly, brought on by a memory, or seeing something, or even a scent.  But all we can do, is the best we can, and go on with our lives without those we love.

I miss my Brother. Love y
ou Dan!


  1. I think I slept with that white bear until I was 16! I loved that thing. And of course (Leo) the giant lion with the crown. And the convertible.
    Happy Birthday Uncle Dan. You were awesome.

  2. Mary,
    You know how I felt about your brother. My heart is with you today.
    love you.

  3. Mary,
    I will be thinking of you and love you!


Don't be 'chicken', leave a comment!