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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at

Monday, June 27, 2011

Share Your Stories of Dano

I write this while homeward bound from my brother’s final tragedy. Almost running from the mess he left behind.

I need to get home, to lose myself in familiarity.
That means getting back to the computer desk and writing things that inform, enlighten or entertain. Not bring you down. I am hoping this is the third tragedy meaning the rein of horror is over.
Long Live the days of laughter and good health, of births, weddings, joy and bliss.

And long live our memories of Daniel( Dano) Robert Harold Saunders:

The day was sunny, hot...the type of day that would bring my brother out of his upholstery shop, this time single-handedly dragging a couch to set on the edge of his parking lot. Across the street is Invermere's Rona building and the traffic to and from its premises was steady.

The cold beer in his hand suggested Dano was ready to quit for the day and was open for company. Having recently moved out of his house and into the bus parked beside his shop, we figure he preferred this to sitting in the bus by himself. We think this because Dan Saunders defined the word “socialite.”

No-one knows how long he sat there, but two men told us after Dano's funeral service that they had both, separately seen him seated there and stopped to join him on that couch. A few beers amalgamated into 2 cases.

They stayed there, enjoying the afternoon, laughing, joking.

Cars drove by, a few with Alberta plates looking at these crazy BC'ers as if to say, “Is that legal here?”, the look quickly changing to belie a “and can we join them?”

Yes, you could always join him. The more, truly the merrier. But while in his company, you may have been shocked to find all rules often ceased to apply. Dano wouldn't be contained by normal constraints

A pick-up truck with a bench seat bolted in the box, complete with seat belts. Yes, every cop in the world pulled him over, only to discover it was compliant.

An ardent champion of under dogs, he nursed a pet crow back from near-death. He hitchhiked across Canada twice.

He wrote left and right on his mitts forty years ago, long before it became a fad.

When his wife and teenaged daughter declared war, he moved into an apartment with the teen, trying to keep the peace. Who does that?

There was no box to think outside of. He was outside of the box himself.

Funny that thought would come to me. He made boxes inside of boxes for an art university entry project. It was fascinating. He was fascinating.

And he ends his journey in a box his daughter made, yes, the same teen, placed on a little side table at the front of a church.

My brother. So well known and loved that he took top billing over the grads of 2011 and graced the front page of the local paper, the headline saying “Goodbye Dano.” He wasn't a celebrity or public figure, but he was somebody everyone wanted to be a bit more like. Casual. Hakuna Matata. What will be, will be. No rain, no rainbows.

One man, the first born child of Bob and Dorothy's. Two children of his own. Born the third month and third day and died in hospital room number three. Four blood-relatives arriving from out-of-town, five months of being single again, six days between flying off a roof and landing inside a wooden box your daughter made for your ashes. Seven days at the Copper Point Resort for your grieving father. Eight, nine, ten times more I should have called him.

Fifty-three years old. Fifty-three hundred pictures, at least.

You may be gone but you are with us even more in death. You are over our shoulder, you're in our ear, you're in our sleep, our dreams, our nightmares. You influence our goals, our future plans, our resolve to be even more like you, more un-like you.

If you have a story about my brother that you would like to share, please send it and I will put it on this website, plus forward it to his children. His legacy of the legend he deserves to become is all they have left.