Over these seven years, I have added many books dealing with grief and heaven to my already crowded book shelves. I also began to collect memories of Duane from friends and family, every chance I could get. With all of my reading books and memories of friends, the idea of writing a tribute to Duane kept growing. Maybe I should make it a collection of lots of people’s memories - something that all his friends and family would enjoy reading and something that would bring joy. Duane was….no, Duane is all about being happy and bringing joy. So I think he likes this idea.
I’ve talked to a few people about it, decided a good way to start was with a blog, and still just kept thinking about it. I kept putting it off because I just didn’t know how or where to start. So, okay, I’ll just start…..at the beginning.
Duane was born in Midland, Texas on January 22, 1983. We lived in Midland because the economy was in very bad shape in the northeast and Mike and I had both lost our jobs within the same week. There we were, two kids and no income. We had just built a new house, and rather than lose it, we put it on the market and sold it. (Unlike today, when everyone seems to think someone should “bail them out.”) My parents gave us a piece of land and we put a used mobile home on it. I found a job in Hancock, at the school. (It was my favorite job up to that point, but the worst paying one I’d ever had!)
We had friends who had moved to Midland and they said things were good there, so during the summer of 1980, we decided to drive down there and see for ourselves. We planned to go for two weeks. What we found there was like a different world than the one we had left in northeastern Pennsylvania. There were jobs, jobs, jobs everywhere. The economic problems were non-existent there. It was booming. Mike went to work at the same plumbing place where our friend worked. Immediately. So he worked for the two-week “vacation” and we drove back to Pennsylvania. Because he had a job there, Mike returned by bus to Texas and I stayed in Pennsylvania with our two sons, Christopher and Darren. Several weeks later, the kids and I returned to Texas with another family member who wanted to check out the job situation there. The boys started school in Midland, I went to work as a secretary for an allergist and Mike continued his plumbing job. We found a little two-bedroom house up the street from our friends who had already moved there. It wasn’t the best, but it didn't cost a lot of money.
I loved Texas. I felt like I was born to be there. Maybe it’s because my grandmother (my father’s mother) was from Texas. My Swedish Grandpa Joe Lind was in the army stationed in Texas. He met Bertie in El Paso, married her and eventually brought her to Pennsylvania (via Long Island). I think I have something in my genes from Grandma Bertie that makes me like the southwest.
So it was that we lived in Midland, Texas when Duane was born, at Midland Memorial Hospital. We were both 36 in 1982. We thought our family was complete, Mike and I and two sons, Christopher, 11, and Darren, 7. When I discovered that we were expecting again, I simply believed it was because God intended for this little surprise to be a big blessing. So Duane became our “little Texan.” Chris and Darren were thrilled to have a baby brother. They helped take care of him and were always nice big brothers. Until later. When he got older and they loved to tease him and play tricks on him. He actually wrote about some of the things they did to him in a book he wrote at the end of 8th grade, for a class project. Maybe I’ll share some of their tricks another day.