TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS AGO TODAY
Rebekah and Rachel were approaching two years of age when I began to entertain thoughts of another baby. When I shared my thoughts with John, he wasn’t so sure I was thinking clearly. The girls had just been completely weaned and potty-trained and he was looking forward to a diaper-free zone and a more structured lifestyle. The girls turned two in October and I was not feeling so well. By Christmas we had confirmed that I was pregnant.
In the middle of this uneventful pregnancy we sold our house in Houston, Texas, and moved the family, including one Irish setter and a cat, to my parents’ home in Chicago. My father and mother were a little apprehensive about our invasion, but their two cats were more than annoyed with the presence of my goofy dog and unfriendly cat. When Mumbo, the 90 pound setter, wasn’t in the backyard trying to protect the house from incoming planes on landing approach to Midway Airport, he was in our basement with Kitty. It was a tense situation there for a few months. John likes to remind us that during that time, “Not one plane ever landed in the backyard.”
We did find and purchase a house, but could not move in until the renter’s lease was up. That meant that the baby would be born before the house was ready. My father was joking that he was going to move to a Y if we weren’t moved out soon. On June 29, 1984, David Joseph Danaher was born at Little Company of Mary Hospital.
It wasn’t long before David became the most-kissed baby in the whole world. Between his sisters and me, he barely went a few minutes without someone kissing and squeezing his cheeks and sometimes bossing him around. John used to say, “David has three mothers.”
By the time the little cherub was two, he was speaking clearly and holding conversations about his obsession with dinosaurs. For the most part David was an obedient child, but like most boys, he couldn’t resist a good science experiment. He was never prone to putting things in his mouth, but then there was the time he decided, at three years old, to swallow a dime he found under a bed. He began choking and although he could communicate, he could not cough it up. John (I was not home) called the ambulance, deposited baby Matthew at my neighbor’s house, and ultimately David had to be anesthetized while the doctor extracted the dime from his esophagus. John called this the “twelve hundred dollar dime.”
David proved to be a quick learner and advanced in our home school rather smoothly. This is also a testimony to the wisdom of the one room schoolhouse method of education. As I would be teaching his sisters their phonograms and math lessons, he would be putting his puzzles and legos together on the floor of the family room. This meant that he heard those lessons over and over before he was of school age. He was particularly annoying to Rachel and Rebekah when they were all a little older and they would be doing math lessons. I would read a word problem out loud from the day’s math lesson and before the girls could think it through, David would blurt out the answer. That was met with, “Daaaaaviiiiid!”
As his math skills progressed through high school, he passed me up and began to teach himself from the books. David was very disciplined as he prepared to take the ACT. Every day, he would retreat to a bedroom and complete a practice test. I never had to prod him to do what he needed to do to get good grades. He eventually majored in physics at college and obtained a Masters in Physics from NIU.
He was a determined little guy. When he was about eight, we took the family to watch the South Side St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Just like his mother, David’s favorite part of the parade was the bagpipe bands. He began pestering me to take bagpipe lessons. In all my life, I never would have thought that my kid would be interested in learning such an odd instrument. It must be in our blood. My mother, the Italian, loved all things Scottish and made sure I attended a concert of The Black Watch Highland Pipers when I was 18.
I made some phone calls and before long David was taking lessons. He never failed to practice or miss a lesson. Highland piping became and is his passion. His skill as a piper earned him a significant scholarship for college and provided an income far beyond what he would have earned in a typical college job. Of that I am very proud.
Although I butted heads with David more than any other of our children, I had the most confidence in his ability to make his way in this world. Except for swallowing small objects and sometimes stepping on those ketchup packages from McDonald’s (a bloody mess on the wall of John’s office), David has been a sensible young man, blessed by God with a strong sense of loyalty to all that is good.
He has been a blessing in his own right, but last year he blessed us even more when he married Kathy Dyer and brought her into our family. I pray that God will bless them with many little bagpipers and I have every confidence that David will make a great and godly father.
We love you David.