A big event in my life happened on May 2, 1948. That's the day my baby brother, Danny, was born. I was eight-years-old and children were not allowed inside the hospital to visit, so Dad held me up to the hospital window so I could get a peek at my baby brother. When Danny and Mama arrived home, I held, fed and dressed him. I became his second mother and eventually his baby-sitter. He called me Sissy Girl when he learned to talk and he was my Danny Boy. Like Dad, Danny enjoyed being alone. He'd sit in his tree-fort wearing his Daniel Boone coonskin hat and dream his little boy dreams. One time when he was about eight-years-old he said, "You're not my boss." His words stabbed my heart. I was knocked off the pedestal he had me on and I felt bruised. I liked being the boss. It only happened one time and our relationship remained close throughout our lives.He was the center of my world and remained a big part of my life even when I was a teenager and dating. He tagged along on many of my dates and when he spilled his malt in my fiances pristine 1956 white Mercury with the mellow pipes, I wasn't sure the engagement was still on. But a spilt malt didn't deter my husband to be. Danny was part of our wedding when he was ten and my husband and I continued to attend Danny's little league games, Cub Scout banquets, and school functions. The following year Danny moved with our parents to Lake Tahoe. He later played high school football and discovered the joy of writing, but skiing and girls were his passions. He moved back to southern California during his first year of college and lived with us. His nieces, three and a half, two and a half and eighteen months, adored their handsome and playful uncle. Melanie, our eighteen month old, waited until he moved in to take her first steps. She was his favorite. She was a blonde and he preferred blondes.Danny took drafting classes in college and spent a summer working as a draftsman at our uncle's architecture firm. He was talented and Dad, a building contractor, built one of Danny's plans at Tahoe Keys in South Lake Tahoe. It was the turbulent times of the 60's with the assassinations of President Kennedy, Bobbie Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as drugs, free sex and the Vietnam War. Young men moved to Canada to escape the draft. Danny felt the changing times and, against Dad's advice, he dropped out of school and moved to Aspen, Colorado, to work and ski. It's while he was living in Colorado that the draft caught up with him. He continued his love of writing while in Vietnam and his poem, Our Changing World, describes that time in our history:
Our Changing World
How hard we look to see the beauty of the trees in autumn And yet cannot see the beauty in a single leaf. How diligently we seek to condemn a race And forget to commend the individual;
How much we spend on foreign aid And still there is poverty at home.
How hard we seek tomorrow When today has not yet passed.
We spend much effort to find fault And little to praise the good.
We open our eyes wide to the wrongs of our neighbors But shut them quickly to our own.
We do not speak what is in our hearts Because we are afraid of being laughed at
Yet, through turmoil and confusion, Come a few who are different from us Even tho there is hatred and jealousy They give, and they love; Even though they are condemned and ridiculed They stand firm in their beliefs.
Even as they live, it is for today Because tomorrow may never come
--as composed by: Sp/4 Danny G. Schwartz
Chu Lai, Vietnam
He was a helicopter mechanic and his letters assured us he was safe. He perished in Vietnam just before he was to meet our parents in Hawaii for some R and R. My son, and my brother's name sake, was born two weeks later. After my brother's memorial service, Dad took his skis and headed for the slopes. He had many happy memories of my brother and he felt closest to him while skiing. I hugged him before he left, then reached down and picked up my baby from his cradle and held him close to my broken heart. I've heard somewhere that when you lose a loved one, sometimes you take on one of their characteristics. I believe my love of writing came from my brother. The first story I wrote was about him. I titled it Windows, because I discovered while writing the piece that the first time I saw him was through a hospital window. The last time I saw him was through an airport window. It was our last good-bye before he went to Vietnam. I know I'll be reunited with my brother someday. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16Until then I have another Danny to love. My son has his own personality and doesn't look anything like my brother; my brother looked like Dad, a slight build with slicked back black hair. My son is a big guy, six foot, with a shaved head and a memorable hug; when he wraps his arms around you, you know you've been hugged. My brother was sweet and so is my son and God blessed me with close relationships with both of them.It's been over forty years since my brother's passing, yet I still mourn his loss and the song Danny Boy always brings fresh, warm unchecked tears.
"Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling. From glen to glen, and down the mountain sideThe summer's gone, and all the roses falling ˜Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide."