Twenty-seven years ago, Jo, a fellow member of the Society for Creative Anachronism introduced Wrenn to Dale and announced that they were brother and sister. Jo died a few years later, but Wrenn and Dale continued to be siblings in all but blood.
Ten years ago, Dale lost his leg due to complications relating to his diabetes. He moved in with his daughter and son-in-law and grandkids in Pennsylvania.
Nine years ago, Dale’s son-in-law moved to El Paso. Dale wanted to stay with his doctors and friends, and Wrenn offered him a place to live with her. She was a few years out of a divorce and living in a small house in Delaware.
Eight and a half years ago, Wrenn started dating me. Eight years ago, we agreed that we would move in together, and she and Dale moved to New York.
Dale was really happy being a New Yorker. With his prosthetic, he couldn’t drive, and in Delaware Wrenn had to drive him everywhere, but here, he could get around on his own thanks to our robust mass transit system.
Despite his health problems — diabetes, vascular issues, Epstein-Barr, back pain, muscle spasms, high blood pressure — Dale lived as active a life as he was capable of. He became a mainstay of the local burlesque scene, and made friends literally everywhere he went. Every party we threw, every gathering we went to, he was always sitting in a big chair telling stories, and he had plenty of them.
A little more than a week ago, his daughter — who went from El Paso to Anchorage to Seattle — called and said that she and the family were actually in the area. They had driven across country and surprised all their family in New York and Pennsylvania, and was Dale free Tuesday or Wednesday night? So they came over Wednesday, Dale made his famous macaroni and cheese, and a good time was had by all.
That night at 2am, Dale was having trouble breathing. I put him in the car and drove him to the local emergency room. We stayed there all night, and then they admitted him. He had fluid in his lungs and a kidney infection, and they spent the last week taking care of that before giving him an angiography that would determine what was wrong with his heart.
It turned out there was quite a bit wrong. They were going to schedule him for a quadruple bypass. They sent him back to his room, and he complained of back pain, so the nurse went to get him some meds. Moments later, he collapsed. He was in the cardiac unit, so he couldn’t have been in a better place, but despite thirty minutes of work, they couldn’t revive him (except briefly for a few minutes where he said he had no idea what happened, then he crashed again).
Wrenn and I are both total wrecks — Wrenn especially. He was always there, always telling stories, always being cranky about something, always there to talk politics or nerdery or television or movies or whatever.
I’ll miss him more than it’s possible for me to say.
Rest in peace, my dear brother-in-law, my dear housemate, my dear friend.