On August 29, at happy hour, Tim left Martini
Lounge, probably to make dinner, and I began scrolling through my Facebook feed
and suddenly saw a post from Julie, announcing that she was devastated, that
Dave (her husband) had died in his sleep of a heart attack. This was completely
unexpected. (He would have turned 59 next week.)
Last year, on Route 153 in one of my quarterly
reports, I told you the story of the whip-poor-will
I got to hear, the one that always landed on Chuck’s roof. I was in town for my
college reunion, but a couple of my dearest friends had been in the class ahead
of me and still lived in the area, and there was one from my class who wasn’t
going to reunion stuff, so I’d asked Chuck to host them all at his house, which
he kindly did: Marty, Dave, and Heidi.
At the last minute, Julie didn’t come along, but
Dave brought his daughter Maggie, who was awesome and funny, early 20s. He also
brought me a half-pint of maple syrup produced at our college’s field station. Chuck runs the field station, and each
year, Dave is one of the head honchos of the sugaring. This has been true since
they were freshmen in college in 1979. Sugaring with them during college—and a
few times after—is a great memory for me. (See also the ghost story from our scary stuff month. And this poem.)
There was a little laughter about coals to
Newcastle when he handed a now-Vermonter some syrup, but I was thrilled.
The morning of August 29, Tim and I finished up
refrigerated syrup in a glass container I wanted to keep. I cleaned it out and
took it downstairs to store until I needed it again. There were some empty
syrup containers on the shelf: a couple I’d saved in case I wanted to break
down a gallon and give some away and the empty half-pint Dave gave me. I
decided I’d go ahead and recycle most of these empties, but when I picked up
Dave’s and saw the logo and thought of that night and his sweet gift, I put it
back on the shelf.
Which must have been right about the time—or
right after—that Julie discovered that Dave wasn’t going to wake up.
That night, I spent some time on the phone with
an old college friend. He was a 9/11 first responder who has been losing fellow
responders regularly for years, and more and more during this covid-19 crisis.
Everyone’s lungs are shot.
We talked about the frustrations of not being
able to mourn properly.
Dave deserves a big sendoff.
This is what I said about him in our original
72/365 A Third Dave
He was the part of martychuckanddave
I knew the least, despite being around him so much: the notmyboyfriend, notmybestfriend
one. Now I suspect he was the most like me, but in ways that kept us slightly
distant then. I almost miss him the most.
Because Cedar Waxwing is from Elgin, I should
note this: Chuck was from Elgin, and after Chuck and Dave graduated, they both
moved there and got jobs at American Can while they were figuring stuff out. I
moved to Elgin the year after that as a volunteer for a church-related
organization, so I got to hang out with them again. Dave used to give me rides
on his motorcycle, which was, frankly, awesome. Julie also grew up in Elgin,
and she and Dave got together while he lived there. When they got married, they
moved to Pennsylvania. (Chuck and Julie and all their many siblings graduated
from the same high school as Cedar Waxwing.)
Eventually, Julie got the obituary up, which I’ll quote in part here:
recently he worked in information technology at Penn State University. But his
TRUE love was making maple syrup at J—C—’s Field Station on Raystown Lake each
spring, where he took charge of the sugar shack, working with close friend and
field station director Charles Y—. David was known to his friends for three
things: 1. building fires, 2. making maple syrup, and 3. building fires. Fires
are mentioned twice because as his friends will say, that man knew how to build
He did indeed. Should we ever have a proper
sendoff, there will likely be a big bonfire involved—but it won’t be as good as
one he would build himself.