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the Ballad of Big Dave

My father, the Angry Captain, and our family is having a rough year.  Just over a year ago my grandmother, his mother, died suddenly from an apparent stroke.

All 5 children, scattered to the ends of America, were able to reassemble before her passing and I had the honor of being there in the hospital to be with the family and act as interpreter.  The Doctor would give odds and explain complications, then the family would spend the next half hour asking me what the Doctor was talking about.

One of the men in that room was Big Dave.

Big Dave is my Dad’s little brother.

Was. Is.  This isn’t easy.

Big Dave was a body builder early on and spent a lot of time in the gym.  He smoked a pipe and knew a good cigar.  He had a sense of humor more readily described as “dick and fart jokes.”  At my Aunt’s wedding, for the family photo, he’s the one that shouted “Everyone look at Grandpa Bob naked!”  Not only is everyone smiling but the kids are hysterically laughing.  It’s a wonderful photo.

When I was not more than a toddler he would don a pig mask and chase me through the halls of his house squealing loudly.  Much like the clown in IT and under the bed in Poltergeist, that pig mask is engraved in my youth.  I’ve come to terms with the first two.

Later on Big Dave used to watch me and my sister when Mom and Dad needed a night off.  He had no kids at the time so when Dad closed the door Dave would offer candy and chant with us, “No parents…no rules!” and we’d watch movies late into the night.

Big Dave was a self made business man, Mom even worked for him for awhile, as did I most summers and some weekends.  He supplied and maintained plants for businesses.

Family legend puts him very high in my book, not only because of the pig mask, candy or late nights watching R rated movies when I was 10, it was because of something he made my Dad do many years ago.

As the story is told, Big Dave wanted to be a Fireman.  A test was coming up and he needed a ride.  Who else do you ask when you need a ride but your big brother?  Turns out Dad gave him that ride and decided to take the test.  He was there and all, why not?

Dad got the letter, Big Dave did not.

Without Big Dave, does my dad ever become a fireman?  What am I?


Big Dave passed last night unexpectedly and hearing my father’s voice early this morning on the phone telling me was nothing I’d like to hear again…much like I said a little over a year ago telling me his mother was dead.

Big Dave was the embodiment of larger than life.  He drove me to soccer practice in a Porshce 911 Carerra smoking a cigar and telling me jokes with swear words.  He was a God.

He was a son, brother, husband, father and uncle and always had a smile and a joke to make an awkward situation more awkward.

Miss you Big D.

Go, then.  There are other worlds than this.

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