Posted by: David | August 8, 2013

Thirty Years Old

The dogwood tree that my wife's mother planted 15 or 20 years ago in front of their home in Connecticut.

The dogwood tree that my wife’s mother planted 15 or 20 years ago in front of their home in Connecticut.

On Sunday, August 4th, 2013, our late son Daniel would have reached that milestone age of 30. Recollecting  the first year of my 3rd decade, there was nothing notable. Nothing significant.  My body was still young and able to sustain all the damage I was inflicting on it, and neither my heart nor mind was anywhere near that maturity level one was supposed to reach as one headed “over the hill”.  All there was was this ingrained expectation that having reached one’s 30th year, some sense of arrival should materialize. It didn’t.

The last photo of Dan, taken in March 1993. It was a very snowy winter. He loved the whole spring lamb deal.

The last photo of Dan, taken in March 1993. It was a very snowy winter. He loved the whole spring lamb deal.

Perhaps that why It seems important for me to think up better stuff for how Danny would have appreciated some of the things that have happened in his family since his departure just over 20 years ago. As a family, we’ve observed the anniversaries of his arrival and departure many times now. Most of those times have been happy recollections, a few times bittersweet, wet with loss and grief, much like the nearly ten years he spent with us. If we got a do-over the only thing I’d request to change would be that poor little ticker of his.

On Saturday the 3rd we took a 3-hour drive to pick up a load of furniture from my in-laws’ home in Connecticut. They sold the place to spend their remaining years having to look after only one home. In Florida. We scored a great bedroom set, a nice chest freezer and a couple of nice recliners. It was a one day trip and we burned about 50 gallons of gas. A long day, but a good one.


This is a small framed mirror I noticed at work this week. The silvering on the back has aged and corroded to form this lovely pattern.

On Sunday, Dan’s 30th birthday, we had some family over to see about distributing some of the furniture. We were tired from the day before, but it wasn’t too bad. We got our bedroom set up with the new furniture. There was a lot of dust under the old bed. We graduated to a queen sized mattress, after 35 years of sleeping on full sized beds. Even though the mattress is pretty old, it’s a really good one, nice and firm. I’ve been sleeping in this week, only on Tuesday did I manage to drag ass down to the cellar at 5 for the morning workout routine.


Fruit of the dogwood tree.

Late in the afternoon, after the last of the furniture was emptied from the horse trailer into our daughter and son-in-law’s house, our daughter suggested that we take a little walk. In honor of the birthday. It was a very sweet suggestion, and our granddaughter thought it sounded like a fine idea. I felt guilty about it, but I was just too tired. Lame. Thanks for suggesting it big sister! They mention “Uncle Danny” to our granddaughter sometimes, and one thing that we all know for certain is that if 30 year old Danny was around to celebrate his birthday with his adorable niece, he’d have definitely wanted to go for that walk too.



  1. 30th birthdays. Something special about them, that’s for sure.

    I love how you see interesting patterns in everyday things, patterns that most people overlook. The silvering on a mirror, ice on a puddle, etc. This time it reminds me of a Marimekko fabric design.

    Thanks, as always, for your kind comments Pied. The mirror caught my eye immediately. It was hanging in sort of dark closety type space adjoining an office in one of the oldest and largest buildings on campus. Colgate Hall. I wondered if it might have been in the building from the long ago days when it had dorm rooms as well as classrooms and offices. I’m going to have to check it out again to see if there are any other clues.

  2. why do some patterns replicate themselves in many many contexts, and at such a range of sizes? That branchy, grove-y looking design from the mirror shows up at many different scales – so do orbs with little things winging around them, and twisty, wind-y braid-looking things (the paths of flowing water, the way overspun yarn will kink up on itself). We know there are some basic shapes and arrangements in the universe (orbs,overlapping scales). I wonder if there are some basic dynamics as well – whose footprints are these patterns we see again and again – i wonder….

    The book that shed the most light, for me, on that question, was Chaos by James Gleick. I imagine that you’ve read it. If not then let me loan it to you. With very little math this book built for me a sort of metastructural apprehension of natural patterns that scale infinitely. And then there were all those colorized images from the Mandelbrot set- an iterated function of an imaginary number. TRIPPY.

  3. My eldest is 30 (soon to be 31) and I can’t imagine life without him! My heart breaks for you. Chin up lad. Chin up.

    Thanks S. Le. Chin is not down. It’s a bittersweet recollection, with the nacre of all the years since his departure smoothing everything into a softy pearly glow.

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