Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Cousin Dan

July 25 was the last time I was able to converse with my cousin Dan. He came to my parents' wedding anniversary celebration and honestly looked horrible. When asked how he was doing he replied "not so good." Not so long thereafter he admitted himself to the hospital and was given 5 units of blood--I was told his color was better and I took it for granted that the problem was solved.

I have always been close to Dan and his twin brother Daryl, sons of my mother's only sibling. I was born on their 3rd birthday and we ate a lot of birthday meals together over the years. Even this year my parents took Dan and me out to the Mandarin House in Twin Falls for our special day. I have wonderful memories from Bellevue Bible Camp, Shoshone Easters and baseball games, Christmas leg-wrestling and family jam sessions. Dan is funny, meticulous and very musical.

Dan was born a preemie on Jan 18, 1958 and nearly died in infancy. School was not his forte; in fact, he spent some time in Special Ed. But as a kid growing up with Dan I don't think I hardly knew that. Dan had such a great sense of humor and was so musically gifted that I loved being with him. I loved hearing David, Daryl and Dan sing and play their guitars at school and at church. I remember being glad they were my cousins so I didn't have to choose which of the three I would marry :) :) Dan did a hitch in the Navy. Later, he experience kidney failure, peritoneal dialysis and finally a kidney transplant. No longer strong enough to maintain a full-time job, Dan was especially good at handyman-type odd jobs that required not speed but intricate attention to detail.

On Tuesday, August 11 we had our annual Ladies' Night Out--a night when the women of our church get together at a restaurant and just enjoy each other's company. My aunt was there and mentioned that Dan might be admitted to the hospital again that night if David (Dan's older brother) felt it necessary when he got home from work. The next morning (Wednesday) I got a call while James and Caleb were in speech that Dan was indeed in the hospital and was unresponsive. We went over to the hospital as soon as possible. Though I'd worked as a nurse for many years, I was not prepared for what I saw. 'Unresponsive' should not apply to a 51-year-old but it did. His side rails were padded due to seizures; he had oxygen, IV's, and a monitor for vital signs. At that point my Mom and Dad were the only ones at the bedside--Mom kept trying to get Dan to open his eyes to no avail. I finally had to leave so I could get lunch for the kids. That night my phone rang during Bible Study--I hurriedly silenced it, not recognizing the number, figuring it unimportant. Afterwards I remembered to listen to the message--it was Dan's sister calling from the hospital saying Dan was dying. I collected the kids and we headed back to the hospital. Dan had been moved into a private room and disconnected from everything except oxygen--according to the directives of his living will. Apparently an EEG done that evening had shown little to no brain activity. Breathing was more labored. Tons of family members and friends were assembled around the room. We stayed as long as we could. Thursday we were back at the hospital. There were beginning to be intervals between breaths. We sang songs around Dan's bedside--songs of hope in Jesus. Songs that brought tears to the eyes and comfort to the heart. We were there until 1-something but had to leave so the kids could eat prior to VBS that afternoon. About 2:35 I got a call from my brother, Mark--Dan was with Jesus. Suffice it to say I didn't make it to VBS. Friday we were at the mortuary. Monday we were at the viewing and then went over to Dan's home church in Hazelton and spent several hours choosing and practicing songs for the funeral on Tuesday. Music has been such a big part of our family over the years that we agreed it needed to play a big part in the service. I was so blessed by the amazingly large group of people who gathered to show their final respects. The pews were full, the chairs set up in the back were full, and I really think there were people standing.

Dan was known and loved by lots of people. But best of all, Dan knew and loved Jesus and Jesus knew and loved him. I don't have to wonder where Dan is now; I don't have to grasp at some wisp of hope that at the last second he somehow made his peace with God. Nope, as the old song says: "The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago" The words to the first verse go something like this:"

There was a time on earth
When in the book of heaven,
An old account was standing
For sins yet unforgiv'n
My name was at the top
With many things below
I went unto the keeper and settled long ago.
Long ago (down on my knees)
Long ago (I settled it all)
Yes the old account was settled long ago.
And my record's clear today
For he washed my sins away
When the old account was settled long ago"
I love you, Dan and as I told you the other day, standing in front of your casket, "I'll see you later."

1 comment:

Amy L said...

I am so sorry. It sounds like Dan was a wonderful person. I'm glad that you have such fond memories of him.