My brother, Danny, has passed after having his leg amputated twice and developing sepsis. He passed on Sunday May 26th; a week to the day after the anniversary of our father’s passing. I had no idea when he first went in that my visits with him would be numbered. We were informed that they would be removing his breathing tube on May 24th so I went back up to be with him along with his wife, Marie and daughter, Christine. We wanted to be there when they took him off of oxygen and he still managed to live for 2 more days after that.
We knew that he could hear us as we held a vigil around his bed. Although he couldn’t talk, we could tell that he was listening as he stared intently into our eyes. We prayed and told him how very much we loved him and we could see that he knew that we were speaking to him. We took turns staying with him so that when we needed to, we could leave the room and not break down in front of him. It was heartbreaking.
The 26th fell on Memorial Day weekend, he passed around 4:30 on that Sunday afternoon. It was a beautiful day; I was sitting outside planting flowers in flower pots when I got the call from Marie. Even though I knew his passing was imminent, I still couldn’t believe it and it still hit me very hard. Now, it was up to me to to tell my mother. Another sibling gone way too soon.
I waited till Monday, Memorial Day morning to tell Mom in person so that she could at least have one more night’s rest before receiving such terrible news. My husband, Larry , son, Rich and niece Elisha (Sue’s daughter) came with me to help support Mom as I broke the news to her. I think she thought I was going to tell her that something was wrong with her because I had arranged to have a doctor visit her at home the week before and perform some tests. I began by telling her that I had some news for her. She tried to be stoic and said let me have it and then I said it’s Danny. I think she thought I was going to tell her that he needed more surgery instead, I had to tell her that he passed. It was the second time that she has lost a child in less than 6 years. Both times, I was the one that had to be the bearer of bad news. She first thanked God for taking him out of his suffering and then she cried and questioned what did she do so wrong to deserve having her children die and be sick. She refused to talk about my brother or his passing anymore after that.
Strangely enough, he was laid out not only in the same funeral home as our father had been but to our surprise, he was in the same room as well. The last time that I was in that room, I stood up to give a eulogy for our Dad. It was my brother, Danny who stood next to me with his arm around me to give me support. Now, my big brother who I looked up to as a child; who played the drums in a band that performed at Palisades Amusement Park and drove the coolest car, a Pontiac GTO, was gone. I stood once again in the very same room that my Dad was laid out in 23 years before to give a eulogy only this time, the eulogy was for Danny.
Thank you all for coming today to pay respect to my brother Daniel and support us with your presence, love and prayers. Danny was a good man who loved and was loved by many people.
As children, my sister, Sue and I would look up to him; he was our big brother. He was handsome, funny, had a big heart & was very cool; he had a GTO & all the girls loved him!
As young children he and my sister, Linda, were mischievous and have a lot of fun. He was often the instigator of their antics like when they were little and in a department store with our mom. He gave her a pin, told her to close her eyes and poke the first person she came in contact with…well unbeknownst to her, the first person she came into contact with the pin was our mother! They had a lot of fun as children and spent a lot of time talking, reminiscing and supporting each other as adults. If she could be here today, she would to honor his memory.
My earliest memory as a child was when I was around 3 or 4 when Danny would play the drums in the basement. Sue and I were supposed to be in bed asleep but instead, we would get up and dance to his music. The whole family was very excited and proud when he got to play at Palisades Amusement Park with his band, The Avengers. If you’ve never heard the song Wipe Out, please try to listen to it and think of him playing the fast, solo drum parts.
He was my parents’ pride and joy; they loved us all but he was their their only boy…that’s a lot in an Italian family. If my mom could be here today, she would but she’s too frail and heartbroken. He was especially close with our Dad, Gus and our grandpa Angelo. Before Danny was born, Grandpa Angelo had some type of infection in his eye and had to have it removed. He lost his will to live until Danny was born and they became inseparable.
Daniel was also very close with our Dad. He would help and work at my dad’s gas station which used to be just 5 blocks away from here. My dad would record Danny playing the drums and listen to it when Danny wasn’t around. As he got older and would come over to visit, they would listen to the 1940’s music of Glenn Miller together.
When our Dad passed away, we were all together by my father’s side. Danny took over like the man of the house to help my mother, sisters & I stay strong. We all took it hard but, in some ways, I think it was harder for Danny because he and Dad were best friends. It was amazing how much he looked like our Dad and when anyone would tell him that, it made him happy.
The last time that I was here in this place, was for our father’s funeral. My sister Sue and I got up to speak as I am now and Danny stood up there with us with his arms around us to give us his support and love and then he spoke about how much he loved our Dad as well.
He had three beautiful girls, Christine, Michele and Lisa and 7 beautiful grand babies that he was very proud of and loved very much. His daughter, Michele, who could not be here today said he always made her laugh and she loved being his little shadow going with him everywhere. They would even go visit my dad at the gas station when my dad was working.
Daniel had a very strong faith I recently learned that while he was home bound because of his arthritis, his faith compelled him to volunteer to help a food pantry in Israel that feeds needy families that are holocaust survivors as well as Christians in need. He would call churches and synagogues all around the country to create awareness about this ministry and schedule appointments so that the founder of the ministry could visit and gain support for the food pantry with prayer & donations. He didn’t do it for glory or to brag about what he was doing because he didn’t tell most of us about it; he did it out of the goodness of his heart. From his chair at home he made a difference in so many people’s lives thousands of miles away….I’m so very proud of him for that.
The best thing that ever happened to my brother was having his beautiful children and marrying Marie. Marie is an amazing woman that took such very good care of him; it was beautiful to see the love that they shared and how much they cared for each other…yes God was very good to him.
Once when I called him at the hospital, he thought it was Marie and answered the phone, Angel? I said…no it’s just me! Marie you really were his angel and now he will always be an angel to you and his children and grandchildren.
May God bless you Danny. May your spirit soar as you bask in God’s love and be reunited with Daddy, Susie and the rest of our family in Heaven.