October 24, 2013: A Beer and a Smile

I received an unanticipated message on FaceBook a couple of weeks back. It was a cute note from a friend's nephew. I hadn't seen him since he was in footie pajamas; looking out the window at the home of my future in-laws. He is now twenty-eight. Five years older than the age of his uncle when he died.

He gave me some nice feedback on my blogs. I was shocked, yet pleased, that he read them. And then my young friend asked if I would be interested in meeting sometime. I quickly realized that Darek shared the same sense of humor as his uncle. After asking if I wanted to join him for a coffee, he admitted to hating coffee. Beer was much better. Just like B.L., he made me laugh. The connection made my day.

Our current FaceBook friendship didn't come out of our acquaintance during with his footie pajama years. He remembers all the Lane's, but not really me. We became friends two years ago after I posted a blog about his very loved uncle who died way too young.BL blog post

Although I do like coffee, I looked forward to meeting Darek for a beer. After a change of plans on my side, we were able to make this Thursday night work. Running behind, I sent him a quick note to let him know this fact. His answer to my courteous message was simply "late". B.L. cleverness hit me again. Just like his uncle.

So I arrived late to find a very tall and grown up Darek. No footie pajamas. And he was the image of his uncle. As I gave him a hug, I was almost taken aback. From the sparkle in his eye to the grin on his face, B.L. was shining through.

Conversation was not a problem. I loved hearing about all of his relatives. I keep up with his mom, uncle and grandma on FaceBook, but it was nice to hear his version. A reinforcement from the twenty-five years I've known this family; I have never met a Kracl I didn't like. Even given their big extended family, this is a very true statement. Darek was no exception.

It was as though I'd known him forever. Just like his uncle, he tells it how it is while ending stories with a stare and a small smile. I especially loved hearing about his Grandpa. Richard is first in line of the Kracl trademark personality that BL exuded and Darek shines so well. Richard comes off as gruff, but you can't help but love him. Don't expect pleasantries in return, but if he likes you; you'll know it. And it actually feels like a bit of an achievement.

And then we talked about B.L. Darek didn't remember much about him dying other than his mom crying and his sitting on my mother-in-law's lap at the funeral. When I started talking too much about this sad day, Darek just looked at me and said "we need to talk about something else". Agreed. So I shared some fond memories I had with Scott and B.L. in Schuyler. A much better conversation which had us both smiling.

I shared stories on my boys as well. It was good to get perspective from a young man who has gone through the same years that my kids are now in. And then our evening came to an end. I noted that I needed to link Darek up on FaceBook with the many Lane's who have watched him grow up. They would like that. Darek also confirmed with me that my observation of the similarities between him and B.L. had been pointed out by others before. I was not alone.

After leaving, Darek sent me a quick note to thank me for the beers. I told him it was a bloggable night as a bit of fair warning to him. We both wished we would have snapped a picture. And then it dawned on me. The picture above of BL and I, taken way back when, was a great representation of this blog. I think Darek would agree. We'll snap a picture next time.


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