Clay leaves for Australia in a few hours, and will miss the funeral of my cousin, Danny. He had a heart attack Wednesday, and his wife found him on the floor in their kitchen when she got home from work. He was only 64.
Danny was a really great guy; I know it is cliche, but he really did love life. He loved the outdoors, he loved to cook, garden and can his vegetables. He would do anything for anyone and was always so happy just to see you -- you just felt happy to be around him. Nineteen years ago, he helped open the door for Clay at Cummins; Danny had so many friends at work, pulled a few strings and made sure Clay talked to the right people. We will always be thankful for that, as it allowed us to move back to Indiana.
Danny was actually my 2nd or 3rd cousin (I have never really known how that works) but "cousin" works just fine for me. Our families have always had an extra close bond; his grandpa and my grandpa were brothers, and his grandma and my grandma were sisters. Family reunions when I was little were highly competitive affairs between the sisters: whose noodles were thinnest, whose angel food cake stood the highest, whose jell-o mold was the most colorful?
I'm playing for the funeral this afternoon. Another cousin, Julie (of Martha Stewart kitchen makeover fame) is singing. Sandy, Danny's wife, said he always joked about having Mozart's Requiem played at his funeral, and asked me if I knew that. I remembered the melodies from Amadeus, but have never played it. I found the music to the Lacrimosa section and have been working on it this weekend. Luckily, it is a slow piece, because so many of the notes are way outside of the ledger lines -- I am fudging a bit and wrote in the note names. I just want to do a good job for him. The piano and organ at the Methodist church are both magnificent instruments; I think I sound a little better when I play there.
I always get a little sad when Clay leaves on a long trip, but this has put things in a little better perspective for me. He'll be coming back in two weeks.