Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Remembering Uncle Dan

Even before the loss of one of my musical idols last weekend, I had received news of another: My Uncle Dan in Indiana had passed away on Wednesday. He was my mom's sister's husband and the one whom I regarded as my closest uncle. LIke Brecker, he hadn't been in good health for a while, but his passing still came as somewhat of a surprise.

Here are some memories of Uncle Dan:
  • He had the quintessental Irish name (Dan Suillvan), and he lived up to that through his gregariousness. Put him in a party, and by the end of the time he was there, he'd know everybody. (This actually happened at my sister's wedding, I think. I had more people come up to me saying, "and of course, I met your uncle; he's really funny and cool.")

  • And, like any good Irishman, he loved his beer. I remember hearing about a time when he and my aunt went somewhere in Europe with Mom and Dad; part of the day, they did some sort of excursion that involved walking up a huge flight of steps to see a castle or something. Dan didn't want to go, so he found a local tavern in town where they had beer and sports on TV, and he was happy as a clam (and I'm sure he knew everyone in the place when he was done).

  • The basement of his house in Indiana is a shrine to Indiana University athletics. There are mounted football programs going back to the fifties, as well as all kinds of pictures of Bobby Knight (including some when he used to wear those loud plaid jackets). He and my aunt also had front-row season tickets to IU basketball games, so one time when I was visiting, my cousin and I got to see a game from their seats. Knight didn't throw a chair or anything like that, but it was still very cool to see a college where big-time sports took place (I have more comments about Knight at the bottom of this post).

  • Dan was a pretty physically imposing guy (which used to scare me a bit when I was really little), but inside that bear of a man beat a generous heart. I got to know him a lot better in college; we used to have fraternity convocations in Indiana every year, and I'd go visit them for a few days after we were finished.
I hadn't gotten to see him in a long time, but I definitely miss him. I hope my aunt and cousin are doing OK.

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