Dan, D-doy or, as Dad liked to call him, ‘Dandy,’ is the youngest of the Lucky 11, 18 years younger than me, a generation younger than his oldest brother. He was the sweetest little curly red-haired toddler, and people thought he was mine when I took him out. And I took him out often. I never corrected them.
Mom was so careful with her youngest. He was slight of build, so she constantly worried he would hurt himself or get swept up in the waves or have any number of childhood calamities befall him. But when he was perhaps 3 years old, she left him behind at the laundromat in the small town where they lived, not realizing it until she stopped at the drug store. Quickly racing back there, she found him sitting quietly, waiting. He loved cars, and at the age of 4 had his own way of describing vehicles, referring to them not as ‘truck’ or ‘car,’ but as ‘stick, lift, pop’ (stick shift with lift door handles and pop-up door locks), or ‘shift, pull’ (automatic with pull-out door handles). I would see him at my little VW bug spit-shining it till the area gleamed.
Danny took some time to grow into himself, or so it seemed to me. Quiet in school with one or two close friends, he had some tough acts to follow with his immediate older siblings. But rather than compete, Dan watched and learned and decided on his own to be his own. He was a quiet, creative, very sweet kid who grew into a quiet, steady, hard worker. He chose to work in the trades and will have one heckuva pension when he’s through. He dated on and off and eventually met the love of his life, Sunny, who could not be a better match for him. They both have a very quirky sense of humor and can read each other’s minds, or at least one would think so. Danny had no children of his own, but with Sunny’s baby granddaughter, he discovered what it means to love a child unconditionally.
Danny is my steady-Eddie. He is loving and loyal, easy to talk to, trustworthy and non-judgmental. He has a contagious grin and crazy quick one-liners, if you can listen fast enough to understand him. I feel kind of bad for Danny, in a way. Being the youngest means being around as your older siblings age and pass. I don’t envy any of the ‘second’ family that place. But we’re all pretty tight, and there will always be support no matter what place you are.