Scarlet Letters

The not-so-private thoughts and rants of Elizabeth Donald, journalist/author and founder of the Literary Underworld.

Monday, January 05, 2015

The Song of Dave and Lorraine

Dave Wenrich met Lorraine Costa in a high school band room in 1941.

They flirted in that 1940s teenager way, and she even sat on his lap in a crowded band bus on the way to a lake picnic. But he never got around to asking her out, and proper 1940s girls didn't ask boys on a date. Dave graduated a year before Lorraine, the war began and they went their separate ways.

They had similar lives: both remained dedicated to music, both married and had children. Dave did his time in the Navy, graduated from UC Berkeley and helped found the alumni band. Lorraine became a violinist and helped found the Merced Symphony Orchestra Association.

Time passed, as it always does. Lorraine became a mother and a grandmother, passing her love of music on to my mother, to me and eventually to my son. My grandfather died in 2001, and some time after that a bad fall pretty much ended Lorraine's lifelong dance with the violin. By then, however, my son had picked up the habit, with Gram's enthusiastic support.

Dave, in the meantime, had had four children and become a grandfather himself. His wife had passed in 2003 and he had retired from his job at the San Francisco Medical Society.

Nearly 70 years after the high school band room, Dave asked Lorraine out on a date. It seems they still had music to make together.

Though they married in 2008, I only had the privilege of meeting my stepgrandfather once. They lived in California, which is a long way from St. Louis. He was a sweet, charming man who was devoted to my grammy. Gram is the head of a long line of stubborn, willful women, and it takes a good man to be married to one. My sister was lucky enough to see him much more often than I, and has many more good stories of Dave and Lorraine.

Unfortunately, Dave's health has been failing for some time. A few falls and onset of Alzheimer's hastened his decline, and sadly, Dave left us on Saturday night. My mother tells me that they had finally been able to convince Gram to come to dinner, and when she returned, he was about to go.

Lorraine rested her hand on Dave's chest, and felt his last two breaths.

I know that Dave's struggle and suffering were rough on him these last several months, and 91 (if my math is correct) is a good run. But my heart breaks for my gram, who has now lost two husbands. She is grieving hard, and missing Dave with great sadness. Our prayers and energy go out to her, and to my mom and her husband, who have been right there beside her all the way through their journey.

Fly to the skies, Dave. We will miss you. But I bet the angels are playing an awesome tune for you today.


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