On October 13, 1955 when I was in my last semester at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia I had a blind date with a radio announcer named Mark Olds. By the second date I knew I wanted to marry him. Four weeks later he proposed and I barely let him get the words out of his mouth. We were married a month later, December 18, 1955. I learned that his family called him David, his first name, which he didn’t use in the wider world because he hated to be called “Dave.” I called him David – the rest of the world knew him as Mark. (When our eldest daughter first went to kindergarten, she came home and asked me, “What’s Daddy’s name?”)
On Saturday, October 3, 2009 David and I attended the Bat Mitzvah of the granddaughter of a close friend. We danced the hora, and then a little later were the only couple on the floor dancing to a Frank Sinatra medley. He was a terrific dancer, much in demand as a dance partner. After we drove home in a heavy rainstorm, David took off his dress clothes, put on his high rubber boots and slicker, and cleared leaves that had been clogging the drain in our driveway. The next morning we took a little time for some pillow talk before he went out for bagels. When he didn’t come home in a reasonable time I went looking for him and found him in our car in the parking lot of the bagel store, seemingly asleep. The bagels were in the back seat.
When I couldn’t rouse him I called 911, and our local Port Washington police and rescue squad quickly came and took him by ambulance to St. Francis Hospital, where the doctors told me he had suffered a stroke. He received excellent and timely care, but he never regained consciousness, never felt any pain or discomfort, and died in the Palliative Care division of North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York on October 8. I had slept in his hospital room the previous two nights, and so I was there when he left us. He was 88 years old, and we had often talked about the day when one of us would go first. We had promised each other we would not use heroic measures to sustain life when a meaningful life was no longer possible, and I fulfilled that promise when he needed me to.
David and I had been together for just a few days shy of 54 years. He was a wonderful man, husband, father, grandfather, and friend. He was my best friend, my rock, my staunch supporter. I know that our daughters, our grandchildren, our close friends, and I will get through this terribly sad time although we will never get over his loss. We’re all grateful that we had him as long as we did.
Obituary notices were published in Newsday and the Port Washington (NY) News.
Party in Your PJs #288
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