My Uncle Daniel died during the night last night, after a long struggle with kidney and respiratory failure, bless him.
My mom has been one of his primary support coordinators for some time, even though she lives four hours away from his home in Pooler, Georgia. She was here in Des Moines for Thanksgiving weekend, and was supposed to fly home to Charlotte later this morning. I woke up around 4:00 AM today and heard her moving around downstairs, so I came down to see if she was okay, soon after she had gotten the 3:30 AM call from her sister Mary Glynn saying that Daniel was gone. It’s Mary Glynn’s 70th birthday today, but there will be no celebration, alas.
My mom and I worked with Delta Airlines to get her a new flight to Savannah at 6:00 AM so she could be there to help with arrangements, and she’s en route as I type. I give Delta a grateful nod of approval for being really responsive under the circumstances. I’m not used to good customer service from airlines.
We’re not really quite sure what’s going to happen when my Mom gets to Savannah, except to note that it’s likely to be difficult. Mary Glynn and my cousin Glynn (and Daniel himself) all have (had) some special needs to contend with, but they are very strong, and at their best when things are tough. They will need it now.
I wrote a (true) terza rima sonnet about Daniel and my father back in January 2004. I reproduce it here today in honor and memory of them both. It is called “Gun,” and it is complicated on a lot of planes, yet really simple on others. At bottom line: dignity comes wrapped in odd packaging sometimes. This is one such case. You’re done with the troubles of the world today, Daniel. Rest peacefully.
The main thing that he wanted was a gun.
He had other more pressing needs, of course,
But deep in his gut he still wanted one.
Not for self-defense or for show of force,
But just so that he didn’t feel unmanned:
by owning a gun, his adult standing was endorsed.
He was slower, yes, true, but understand
he was well smart enough to feel the sting
when patronized, and that’s why he planned
to get himself a gun, since that would bring
some small comfort when he felt sad or mean.
He wasn’t going to shoot anything.
(With a smile on his face, he sits and cleans
that rifle you bought him, until it gleams).