Note: The photo of Brian to the left is not the little girl in this story. It is one of many photos we’ve gotten from Brian’s friends showing him with their children.
Know that Brian was a very good friend of mine and I thought the absolute world of. He was always positive and kind and his attitude was infectious to anyone who encountered him. None of this was more evident when he first met my little girl.
My daughter’s name is Natalie, and at the time she first met Jr. she was 2 years old. And I am sure you know that most 2 year olds are quite a handful and in her case, two handfuls. Her default demeanor was and is, never trust anyone and when a stranger enters the room, …hide. This practice also applies to relatives as well. So, one day Jr. came by the house after realizing that he had never met my little girl. Jr. knew my little boy, always calling him John John, (his name is just one John) and as we stood on the first tee at Woodlawn Country Club, Jr. insisted that we go to my house to meet my little girl. While I was more than happy at introducing my friend to my daughter, in the back of my mind I knew that it would be a challenge for her to even say hello, much less come out from behind the furniture to meet my friend Jr. I advised Jr. of this possibility but he insisted, so off we went.
We walked into the front door and then to my daughter’s room where my wife and daughter were reenacting the Battle of Bull Run and immediately upon seeing Jr. my daughter stopped in mid yell and just stared at Jr. As he was good at doing, Jr. was all smiles and started calling my daughter’s name like he had known her since she was born. She then starts walking towards Jr. to the amazement of my wife and myself and we wonder if she’s going to attack. At that moment she extends her arms and Jr. reaches down and picks her up. She just stared at him without flinching like he was Santa Claus, completely captivated. I look at my wife and we are both speechless. We have never before or since seen my daughter react that way to someone whom she didn’t know and most people that she does know. Jr. had a way about him that enabled even the most skeptical people to trust him.
At night, we all get on our knees and say our prayers out loud and ask the kids who they want to pray for. Natalie prays for her playmates at school, her mommy and daddy and her brother, and Junior. All the names come and go but she doesn’t fail to mention Junior on a consistent basis. That is just the affect he had on people, kids especially. I know that we aren’t special because there are several families with kids that talk about how special Junior was to their children and family, however we are very fortunate to have known Brian and had him in our lives for the short time we did. He was the uncle that every kid wished they had…and the brother that all the parents wanted.