If you are new to this blog of the upcoming book Viking Funeral, celebrating the life of Dave Linane with booze, words, and fire, welcome. The timeline above shows you where we are in the book. While each chapter can stand on its own if you wish to read from the beginning, click here. More info is available, About Dave or the FAQ section explains who the book is about and the arc of the storyline. If you found me through a grief group, this page of my perspective of why we are all here in this place right now may be helpful. XO M
With each subsequent speaker that night, naturally, the saturation of darkness fell deeper around us. The verdant green of the hedges at the perimeter of the yard surrounding us grew into a black backdrop with a glint of bouncing indirect firelight hinting at the texture of leaves. There was a banker’s light at the podium, so reading any notes anyone had was not a problem, but their faces were becoming harder for us to see well in that solitary light source directed down in front of them. It wasn’t like scary campfire stories, but you couldn’t fully see their expressions. We hadn’t thought of a spotlight for our speakers but needed one STAT. We procured a floodlight from elsewhere in the yard, strung a few extensions cords together to reach the furthest point at the back of the yard, to the simulated stage of grass to better light our guest speakers.
Our friend Joel stepped up to hold the light in his hand just right to light the speaker for us to see but not blind them in the process. The firepit was the star attraction on the imaginary grass stage left (audience perspective) of the podium, Joel was to the right. He is one of the funniest people I know but took his job holding that light surprisingly serious and stood as still as a statue. I was so appreciative and impressed at how he held what had to be a hot light in his hand for a very long time, for the rest of the speakers, until we said goodnight to everyone. Thanks again, Joel.
Hi. I am Dave, another Dave. I’m Brian’s older but better-looking brother. I watched Dave and Brian grow up. I moved away, started my family and career when I was pretty young, and they were still in Junior High School. A couple of years later, they were in high school, but before they could drive, they took their bikes on the train to L.A. and rode from Union Station to our house in Long Beach, just for something to do. It was not the safest of things to do, but it was among the first of many adventures I witnessed between those two. It wasn’t until I moved back here a little over a decade later that I spent more time with Dave, got to know him really well, and had some of my own adventures with him.
Dave was always game to do something, anything. Crowd nods. A group of us used to get together, meet up here to pick him up. Jim, he pointed Jim out in the crowd; Jim nodded when he did and sat up a little straighter, originally my friend from middle school, we were the Dave and Brian equivalent before Dave and Brian met. After I moved back here, my buddy Jim got to know Dave too. So, Jim, Brian and me, later our group grew to include the new people in our lives, my wife Carol, Sharon, Brian’s wife and Natalie, Jim’s wife, joined us. It wasn’t any big deal; we just went to dinner, the movies, sometimes a bar, a party, or holiday event. We always had a good time having Dave with us.
Dave had a few vans over the years, and honestly, they were never that dependable. I only have a short time up here, to tell you my favorite Dave adventure, but I have experienced more than one van breakdown with him. Dave worked around all those breakdowns like everything else; he just laughed that laugh. Heads nodded, knowing what laugh he meant.
Jim’s daughter was getting married. Brian was working that day, but Dave and I were planning on attending. The plan was that I would pick him up and we would ride together to the wedding in Riverside. Dave’s van at that time was either parked with a problem with the lift or stuck in the shop with any number of possible issues.
As the day came closer, I kept checking with Dave to find out the status of the repair, if the van was going to be ready by that Saturday of the wedding. It was not looking good, but Dave Linane never canceled on anyone. He WAS going to go; we just had to figure out a way to get him from San Bernardino to Riverside.
Dave finally suggested he just ride in the back of my Silverado, out in the open. He had straps that could be used to tie him in…you know, for safety and all.
Of course, I agreed. It was his idea, and if he wanted to do it, I was going to take him. He always added, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Most of the audience laughed and nodded with understanding, having heard that unanswerable question to a question response from Dave before. So I came over, we decided to use Brian’s front porch to load him. He headed over, and I followed him. I got Dave on the porch with a ramp that Brian kept at his house. I backed my truck up to line the bed up with it and helped him into it. I fastened him in tight with the straps, (like a refrigerator back there) and we headed out to the ceremony.
Dave, sitting in his wheelchair, was taller than the cab of my truck, facing forward with no protection, so he was basically in a wind tunnel back there. I was keeping an eye on him, well, his body in my review mirror, I couldn’t see his face, but I knew he was still back there.
It was about twenty miles to the church by the freeway, much farther than his wheelchair batteries would have survived if he tried to drive himself there on his own by surface streets. I drove those surface streets as slowly as was safely possible, but some of them were unavoidable four-lane roads. You can imagine the many people passing us and looking…like “What the hell?” Like I was torturing the poor guy. How many cars do you encounter in a twenty-mile stretch? Well, they all looked. I wanted to shout, “It was HIS idea!”
I stopped about halfway there to check on him. He HAD a baseball cap on when we left, but it was gone, I asked, “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HAT?” He laughed as he tossed his head, pointing somewhere behind him, “It flew off back there somewhere!” I couldn’t help but laugh with him, “Well, we need to find it!” I got in and turned the truck around to find his hat!
It took more than several miles of back-tracking. I was worried we weren’t going to find it, and honestly, I don’t know why it became a priority, I mean, we were on our way to Jim’s daughter’s wedding, we were cutting it close, but I HAD to find that hat! I finally saw it, lying pathetically in the gutter. I pulled over, grabbed it, climbed into the back of the truck, and placed it backward on his head, pushing it down as far on his head as it would go because I thought that would help.
We and the hat made it to the church. As I was looking for a place to park with room to unload Dave, I noticed there were steps at the main entrance with no wheelchair access ramp. I kept driving around the building, looking for a wheelchair ramp, but all access to the building was by stairs. I found a loading dock in the back that was closely aligned with the height of my truck and unloaded him. We made it inside on time. Afterward, I loaded him back in, and we headed the short distance to the reception.
When we arrived at the hotel, there were no wheelchair ramps there either. I drove around the back, assuming they too had a loading dock and maybe even a hydraulic lift. There were loading docks but no lift. It was not possible for me to do this by myself. Instead, I found four strapping young football player looking guys, explained our dilemma, and asked them to help my buddy into the building. Without hesitation, they were glad to help and lifted Dave between the bed of my truck up to the dock. I think they were pretty surprised at how heavy he and his wheelchair were. Their muscles were shaking, and they were breaking a sweat, moving him that short distance. But they were great with Dave, and well, you know Dave, he was very appreciative of their help. He then worked his way unannounced through the service entrance of the building, through the kitchen, surprising everyone in there, saying, “Hello” to everyone he passed on his way through to the reception. It was a great party; we had a great time.
When it was time to leave, it turned out that some other guest who had a wheelchair lift was staying at the hotel and was at the loading docks when we arrived back there. Between their help, the lift, and me with a few beers in me, we loaded him back in the truck and headed home. Keep in mind it was night by then, he was outside, and even in the summer, it was a bit of a cold ride those twenty-plus miles home. It was HIS idea!
Tom and Sandra had to be pretty worried until we returned; Sandra looked worried to me as she watched us head over to Brian’s to load him up. I was never so relieved to return him and his hat home safely to them.
I am going to miss him. My thoughts are with his family, and my brother, we are all going to miss him.
© Mardi Linane Copyright 2020