My Uncle Danny
I spent this weekend with both my extended and immediate family rejoicing the life of My Uncle Danny. Danny passed away on the 30th of December 2009. He spent his life battling Downs Syndrome. He was my Dad’s youngest brother, he lived to be 51 and he beat all the odds.
Daniel Jones Hall was born in September of 1958 to Florence and Elmer Hall. When he was first born the Doctors told my grandparents that he was going to have to stay in the hospital longer than usual—eventually telling them that he shouldn’t ever accompany them home at all and that he should simply be institutionalized.
Having a boy of my own nearly a year ago, I can’t imagine the heartache and pain they must have felt. But, my grandparents told the doctors that regardless of the advice, they were taking their boy home.
This is no easy task today, but then, it was unheard of. The “retarded” weren’t supposed to be a part of society. It wasn’t easy, things like this never are, but they were dedicated to giving him every chance.
They taught him to eat by himself by putting him in the bathtub to eat because it was easier than continually cleaning him up. They got him into school by pushing and pushing until the people at the district couldn’t stand to be pushed any more.
They taught him to sing. I remember Danny singing. Although his words weren’t always clear, or correct, his pitch was always perfect, and the result always beautiful. He loved to perform and was in many of the school plays. He loved attending church and would bear his testimony of it’s truthfulness every chance he got.
All this happened with very little support. My Grandpa and Grandma Hall had to figure it out on their own. The only manual they had was scripture on Charity and the only instruction they received was the love they felt in their hearts,
When I think of my Uncle Danny, I remember him singing “God Bless America,” and “Take Me Home Country Roads.” I remember his love of Ketchup and soda in his Maverick Mug. I remember him with the cowboy hats he loved, the horses he’d play with and his records by Glen Campbell, John Denver and Donny and Marie.
I remember Danny’s guitar, and drum set that he made clear was “off limits” to little nephews like me. I remember how he liked pretty girls, and how his impression of The Incredible Hulk” would send this little eight-year-old running for the hills.
I remember how he was at every family function. He wasn’t simply hidden away. It made for some funny moments, and interesting ones as well, but he was a part of the family and he was always present. I remember the pure love of my pure grandparents.
I also remember Danny’s kind face. I remember his big laugh—especially when his brothers were around. They’d call him “Dan The Man” which always brought about his sheepish laugh and reply, “C’mon guys.”
I wonder about what Danny is doing today. I know some of it. I know that he’s in a heaven that has a loving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ waiting there. I know Danny is back with his parents and that he is whole and perfect there.
I wish I could have seen that reunion—Danny in the arms of his parents who loved him so. It brings me to tears, just writing the words.
Part of what I realized this weekend, was that Dan was “The Man.” I’m proud of the way he fought the good fight far longer than any doctor ever dreamed he could. I’m proud to be his nephew, and I’m moved by the way my grandparents fought to give him a chance.
I have so much more to write, but just now I have tears in my eyes as I hear Danny singing “God Bless America” and think I’ll just leave it with this…
I love my Uncle Dan.