Nestled in the Children’s Department of the Monona Library is a Joke Area that turns one year old this month.  It is dedicated to a member of our community we lost two years ago this next summer.

He came into my life the spring I was nursing a bad back.  Even in pain I could not refrain the smile forced upon me by the bundle of energy packaged in a boy who had been on the planet little more than a decade named Dan.

My children became instant friends with Dan Robinson and his younger sister, Megan.

They ran across the lawn together while I was mowing it that spring and summer. In the library Dan, a fixture there it seemed, greeted us each day out of breath with a joke or a story.

During the autumn he and our younger two spread the piles of leaves I worked into a small mountain back on the lawn as if it was a picnic blanket.

Winter was sled time for Dan and his gang.  The seasons were an adventure to Dan, it seemed.  As I recall he had a strong interest in weather.

The summer Dan was ill I missed him.  Crossing the lawn of Maywood School on our way to the pool I asked my youngest two if they had seen Dan.  We did not realize he was ill.

The library was too quiet that summer.

On a hot day in late August, after Dan lost his battle, we gathered in a church to celebrate Dan.

As we left our house the sight of neighbors wearing formal clothing climbing into their cars on their way to celebrate Dan’s life, in the very center of a summer day, spoke volumes.

Rather than a traditional sit down meal his family said Dan would not have apporved of, or sat in his seat for, a gathering he would enjoy was offered–snacks…snacks…and more snacks.

The following April a group of us gathered for the dedication of the Joke Corner to the Children’s Section of the Monona Public Library.

For the first time in months things seemed right again.  As families sat and enjoyed a laugh over a joke the library was a little less quiet.

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