He lived in a room in a boarding house, something I didn't realize even existed anymore. When I thought about that, it reminded me of old Andy Griffith show episodes, because Barney Fife lived in a boarding house too. Though I don't know what the exact facts were, Dan was part Native American, a fact he was quite proud of, and he was delighted when I told him I had some Cherokee blood in me as well. On more than one occasion he told us, "my people call me The Hawk". That always made me smile when said that, he was quite serious. I think.
There was a sweetness and gentleness about him, at times he almost seemed childlike. The night Dan died, we had a conversation about getting older. Since it was 1989, we were talking about the fact that 10 years from then it would be 1999 and the last year of the millennium. We were figuring out how old we would be in 2000. Dan's math was all off and when we pointed that out to him, he got a little quiet, sighed, and said "I don't think I'm going to live much longer." Well that stopped us in our tracks. When we asked him what was going to happen when he died. He said very matter of factly, that "when I die, my spirit will go to heaven". It was the clearest statement of faith I'd ever heard come out of that sweet man's mouth. In a matter of hours, that very thing would happen.
Evil, pure evil, was in the hearts of the men who took Dan's life, for no reason other than he was in the wrong place, and got in their way. I hate that he died in moments full of fear. But I am comforted by the fact that his next conscious thought is in God's presence. Hours later that night, his words came back to me...............somehow he knew.
I went to his grave site during my lunch hour one day last week. It's near my office and I'd been thinking about him a lot, as I always do near the anniversary of that terrible day. They held Dan's body for nearly a month looking for next of kin, and finally in July of 1989 they laid him to rest. As I arrived at the cemetery another funeral was happening in the little pavilion near his tombstone. Just as I sat down in the grass, there was a 21 gun salute, and then someone played taps. It was a poignant moment.
You are not forgotten Danny. Myself and others think of you often, and for me, it's with a small smile, and a few tears..........that your life was taken in such a violent way. And that now I'm much older than you ever got the chance to be.
"Good-night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."
If you're a newer reader around here, the back story to this post is here