One of the earliest memories I can remember is riding in a pickup truck with my dad's best friend, Dennis. I remember him turning up the radio up and we jammed out to Motley Crue, Poison and Guns and Roses. He always smelled like motor oil, and he always, always bought us ice cream with the ding ding man drove by. His hands were always dirty because he worked on trucks or motorcycles all. the. time.
He spent a lot of Friday nights at our house (maybe he lived with us? I am not really sure) and my sister Nicole and I would wake him up on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons with us. We weren't nice about our wake up calls - we would throw balls at his head and hit him with rubber baseball bats. We were little snots, but Dennis would always wake up, get us some breakfast and watch our shows with us.
When he ate dinner with us, Nicole would make a big mess of her food, adding ketchup where it didn't belong and mixing everything together. Dennis would eat her concoction, mostly to make us sick, but also I think because that way no one could yell at Nicole for not finishing her plate.
He and my parents were young - Mom was 19 when I was born, and Dennis and Dad were only 20. I am sure most of my parent's friends were off drinking and being ridic, but Dennis became our uncle, a staple to our family. He and my dad were always together, and Dennis loved us as his own.
As we grew older, our family changed - Mom and Dad got divorced, Dad married Peg, we all moved to Glenwood and Dennis lived in our old house in Pacific Junction. Dennis got married to a horrible woman named Lynda, and they had two daughters. We didn't see him as often, but we knew he was there when we needed him.
In 2005, Dennis and his wife were in the midst of a divorce and she was living with her new boyfriend. Something bad happened. Something inside Dennis snapped. And Feb 13, 2005 he walked into the bowling alley in Glenwood with a gun and killed Lynda's boyfriend. He fired his shots, put his gun down and surrendered. He had done what he wanted to do and he knew (clearly) there was no escaping his actions.
Dennis is now in jail for the rest of his life. He didn't say much during his trial; there was really no arguing the evidence. He got life in prison with no chance of parole. NO CHANCE. Charles Manson is eligible for parole every few years, but Uncle Dennis is not. Does that make sense? No. Is it fair? No. Do I wish I had enough money to get him a decent lawyer and reopen the case? Yes.
It's been almost nine years, but I still think about this all the time. The reason for this random, untimely blog was a dream I had the other night where I ran into him at WalMart. I followed him for awhile, and then finally got his attention and was like "dude...aren't you supposed to be in prison?"
I would never say what he did was okay, nor will I ever understand it. I will never forget the morning (Valentine's Day) when Dad called and said "Are you sitting down? Uncle Dennis lost it last night." I spent the rest of the morning watching the news, until my boy of the moment came and took me to breakfast where I couldn't eat, and I just kept sputtering "what was he thinking? what's going to happen now?"
I just worry about him. And I miss him.