Last night about 8 o’clock or so the phone rang. There was an irrepressible, unmistakable, voice on the other end.
It was Danny, calling to wish us a Merry Christmas.
Danny is one of those memorable characters one comes across once in awhile; people who brand themselves into our memory bank.
I met Danny during the last few months of my brother-in-law’s life in the summer and fall of 2007. Mike, more or less a recluse, mentally ill, and paralyzed from the waist down, moved into the assisted living facility where Danny lived, a high-rise in one of North Dakota’s few cities. Mike had only two or three months in the high rise before cancer took him back to the hospital, nursing home, and the release of death.
I think there would be consensus among the people that know him, including his fellow residents, that Danny is an odd duck. He was very short, and very round, he certainly wasn’t graceful in his movements, and he basically wore the same clothes every day, and they were not clothes that would win him any awards.
And he could be a pest. I think even his fellow residents tended to tire of him at times.
At first, I thought he might be mentally handicapped, and I suspect that in some ways he was, but that didn’t deter him. He was just fine with himself, thank you very much.
Mike died in early November, 2007, with few friends. He’d spent a life wary of relationships, generally.
It was Danny who called me up and said he wanted to arrange a memorial service at the high-rise for Mike, and I said OK, not thinking that he’d ever pull it off.
But near Thanksgiving in 2007, Danny MC’ed the most marvelous memorial service I’ve ever attended. He had a minister there, and he had a pianist, and he sang a couple of the hymns as solos. There were a goodly number of us in attendance. If Mike’s spirit were anywhere around, it had to feel very good.
And it was Danny’s gig.
The minister later told me later that he based a sermon on Danny’s service: that’s how impressed he was.
Recently Danny celebrated his 50th birthday. He invited us up, but we didn’t go. Now I wish we had.
There are special people who come into one’s life, and Danny is definitely one of those, for me. Last night, he and I talked for only a short while, bid each other Merry Christmas, and so it went.
And speaking of Special People: Last night I heard that Susan Boyle’s YouTube videos from last spring have now been seen over 100,000,000 times – the most popular video of the year (here). (My two earlier posts about her are here.)
Today I bought Susan’s first CD, and started listening to it. It is wonderful. Look for it. She, too, was viewed as something of an odd duck in her village years ago…. She too was irrepressible.
She and Danny have that certain something…something we can all aspire to.