I had the following conversation with my brother long before I had Bean or even met Green. This is an approximation of the conversation, it was a long time ago after all, but I can still hear my brother saying this. At least I like to think I do.

Danny – I want five kids
Tepary – FIVE kids? What?
Danny – Yep, five kids. I’ve got their names picked out too.
Tepary – Well you best get started then.
Danny – Who says I haven’t?
Tepary – Who is the lucky girl?
Danny – Who says there is just one.
Tepary – Dannnnnnnnnnnnnnnny!!!
Tepary – Alright, what are their names?
I wish I could remember all of them. I remember just two. One was something terribly irreverent, the other was Yehudi.

He was kidding.

I think.
Danny totally had the dead pan face down and he was funny as well as brilliant.
We had that conversation in the summer of 1995. We talked a lot that summer. He was in California at Stanford in a doctorate program, being brilliant. I was back working in the lab I worked in while I was an undergradutate, and taking an American Folklore class as a requirement for my teaching certificate. I really liked that class, I liked talking to my brother about the class as my project was on the storytelling of the area we were from in England. I’m afraid the class encouraged a spat of bad joke telling Danny didn’t dissuade me from and may have even encouraged. I think I thought if I could tell jokes I was more likely to get a date. Yeah, not the greatest plan, but sharing terrible jokes with my brother that summer over the phone is a favorite memory. The conversation about names, that was one of the last I had with Danny. He died 16 years ago last week. I miss him terribly.

I talked to my mum the day before the anniversary, my dad on the day. We each remember him in our own ways. Candles lit, a walk, a poem reread. Funny thing though-both my dad and I googled him. Put his name in and wanted to see what was out there. 16 years ago the web was here, but it wasn’t here in the same way. Does he still exist in our web-based world. Does it matter? I don’t know that it does, he is part of my thoughts often. Bean talks about my brother, her uncle she never knew. I wish she did. I do think it interesting though that both my dad and I independently looked online for his presence. Hilary wrote this beautiful tribute to her friend Michael. Something that put him out there in the cloud again.

I don’t want the first thing I find when I google my brother’s name is his obituary. I want it to be a conversation about naming kids, something I can imagine talking with him about now as Green, Big Mama* and I talk about it.
Yehudi, I’ve said to both of them.
They both know I’m joking. I don’t have that same ability to pull the poker face like Danny, but I say it and I can hear his voice,
“Yehudi Hughes. I like the way it sounds.”

So Mum and Dad this is for you, and me, a conversation about the naming of kids that plays in my head over and over again. I love you both very much and I’m not always very good at showing it.

In 1994. Ha ha ha, my shirt is tucked into my shorts. Danny, D and me.

*Big Mama is the expectant mother we’re talking with. She named herself.



Filed under Family, Uncategorized

24 responses to “Danny

  1. Emily Achenbaum Harris

    Thinking of you.

  2. Oh my, what a touching tribute to your brother. The idea of the names conversation coming up in a Google search instead of his obituary is so poignant. Perhaps we should all Google this post and his name repeatedly so the SEO elves bump it to the top of a search.

    I wish you peace.

  3. Thanks Emily and Melissa, I appreciate the thoughts. Laugh with me too please. I do each time I think of that conversation. And Melissa, I think that is a bloody brilliant idea.

  4. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

    I feel so lucky to have met him, to have known him even a little bit, to have known you with a living brother (even if you did tuck your shirt into your shorts).

    Daniel Hughes, the world misses you.

    Good luck to you and Green and Big Mama as you discuss names. Yehuda? Well, it’d make Danny laugh, anyway.

  5. Bryn

    Beautiful story, beautiful writing. Thanks Rach. Been 13 years and 8 months since I lost my beloved, brilliant, self-effacing, kind, funny, and humble brother Erik Eriksen. He deserves to be at the top of a google heap too. And my kids still speak of them like they had him all along, but they really lost him (too) when they were very young. My daugher hangs onto a photo of she, her brother, and their Uncle Erik on the counch at my mother’s house like it’s her first and only surviving teddy bear. I don’t blame her. I admire him too. And the way he made me watch scary movies with him when it was the last thing I ever wanted to do as a kid (but wouldn’t have been anywhere else in the world) speaks volumes. Wish we had more time. Anyway… love love love to you and your crew as you embark on a whole new wonderfully exhilirating and exhausting adventure!

  6. Joe

    I remember Danny well, for the few times we met. It brings more than a tear to my eye to hear how you miss him. It’s a shame we live so far apart, but we are still able to keep in touch. We must be grateful for the future we have before us, and for the love we have shared along the way.
    Not sure if you have heard, but we have number 2 coming in the newyear, as you say ‘grow family, grow’.
    Lots of love Joe, Helen and Evelyn.

    • Joe, Thank you so much. It means so much to see this message here from you. Many congratulations on the upcoming addition to the family. I think you should plan a trip to the US. We just missed each other in Italy I think. One of these days cousin. Love to you and yours.

  7. Such a sweet, loving post! You’ve conveyed your brother’s spirit so well, I feel honored to know a bit of him.

    What wonderful photos! (We’re not supposed to tuck our shirts in our shorts anymore??)

  8. Cheryl Ryan

    Danny would be proud of you.

  9. This is lovely, Rachel. I’m so glad that you wrote it, and so sorry that you had it to write.

  10. Pat Jones

    How lovely to hear from Joe, Helen and Evelyn. I always feel we have such a small family compared to many people, so it is really great to be reminded of the ever growing one out there somewhere. And hopefully, I will be seeing the three/four of you soon. And the Irish branch in Cork, who are also growing fast.
    And the second reason for posting is to say that another name Danny wanted for his children was Madonna. Which I think goes to show, how long she has been a a celebrity for.
    And I’ve lit candles for Danny all round the world, which is really part of how unbelievers can borrow ‘God’ and symbolism as frameworks for their own lives.

  11. Natalie

    That is just beautiful.

  12. I want to use words that are as beautiful as yours to reflect the emotions you awakened in me, and I am sure others. Thank you for this intimate glimpse into your world!

  13. In my world, the grief of a lost loved one and the joy of a new baby almost always coincide. Thank you for sharing this conversation. It’s amazing what we keep as memories. It would be neat to honor your brother in some way with new baby, even if its the honor of giving baby the “pet name during expectancy”, don’t you think? 🙂
    I wish you all well.

  14. Lovely, touching, funny, heartwarming piece of prose. A big hello to Danny, who is no doubt out there somewhere kicking himself that he ever mentioned the name to you. Because now you might actually use it…!

  15. Monica

    XOXO my friend.

  16. I’ve been thinking a lot about Danny today, and your family, and wishing he was here to celebrate with you.

  17. I did not know Danny, except through you and your Dad. But I feel like And I remember every detail…not a one missed. Very very special, even when looking in from the outside (It is a year from when you wrote this, and I discovered it through a more recent comment on Facebook. Sending your entire family all my love –Barron)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s