Cathy and Dave’s story was far from over, however. Dave’s roommate, Carol, was pressing for Dave to be cremated and his remains buried in a military cemetery. However, Cathy knew that was against Dave’s wishes; multiple times before his death, he had outlined that he wanted to be buried in her family plot, alongside Cathy’s brother, where Cathy was to be buried as well; he wanted to be buried with his family. Carol wasn’t too keen on this idea. She flagrantly waved around the medical power of attorney which had been signed over the day before Dave entered the hospital. She claimed that an individual’s remains could not be divided up were they to be buried in a military cemetery. But that wasn’t all: Dave’s funeral in Minneapolis would not be held for another few weeks; Bob and Carol had a concert they wished to attend and that took precedence.
None of this sat right with Cathy. The domineering force with which Carol assured her that this is what Dave wanted; her putting a concert before her friend--none of it. Thus began a legal battle fighting for the cremains of Dave Jones. Cathy contacted a lawyer and did her own homework; Carol was mistaken in saying that all of Dave’s cremains were required for a burial in a military plot. She then told Cathy that she could have part of Dave’s cremains--but not until after his funeral in Minneapolis. Unable to talk any sense into Dave’s roommate, Cathy filed an injunction with all the necessary paperwork to bring Dave back home. All hell broke loose from that point forward.
Cathy received phone call after phone call with Carol on the other end spewing vicious insults and scorn.
“She told me ‘If I wanted half of Dave, that I could take him,’” said Cathy. “I just better hope she weren’t around to see it. I responded that Dave had never wanted a funeral in a military cemetery, that, before he died, he expressed how much he wanted to be buried by those who loved him. I told her that I’m doing what I think is right, otherwise I wouldn’t be digging my heels in so much. ‘Some Catholic you are,’ Carol replied and she hung up the phone.”
The weekend that Carol and Bob were out at their concert, Cathy made a quiet trek up to the Twin Cities alone. With all the required documentation in hand, she journeyed to the funeral home. Finally, half of Dave’s cremains were in her possession. She drove home listening to the songs they loved with the windows down, Dave riding shotgun.
Father Raphael conducted the service in the quaint Missouri Valley chapel. It was a rather simple one, little fuss but lots of love, just how Dave would have wanted it. The funeral was attended by Cathy, her children, and friends. Dave’s children, former lovers, and adoptive family had all been informed of his passing; all declined to attend.
After the memorial service, Cathy and her family drove from the church to the cemetery in her ruby red convertible, the top down, the wind blowing through their hair. She turned on the radio, blaring the music as she had done with Dave some several months prior and some 25 years earlier. On the radio, one of Dave’s favorite gospel songs was playing, one they had played at his funeral. It was called “Dear Younger Me;” it was a song centered on redemption. After the song came drew to an end, the station cut to a commercial break. Cathy turned the dial and the next station she landed was just beginning to play a song, stepping off with an upbeat rhythm and the strumming of an acoustic guitar, a melancholy tune that flooded back memories of video chats and nights spent under dimmed hospital lights: Brett Young’s “In Case You Didn’t Know.”
In case you didn't know
Baby I'm crazy 'bout ya
And I would be lyin' if I said
That I could live this life without ya
Even though I don't tell you all the time
You had my heart a long long time ago
In case you didn't know
In the back seat rode Cathy’s children, Danny and Piper. Teary eyed, Cathy turned around to face her daughter. Piper clutched Dave’s urn as he had once held her: in her lap, all-encompassed, safe, securing, and loving. Tears rolled down both of their cheeks. Before he had passed, Piper asked Dave for a sign that he would be there for her, watching over their little family. He delivered.
At the cemetery, Dave was given a proper military burial. Cathy and her family stood under the warming June sun, steady and erect, as the honor guard delivered a 21 gun salute. Cathy was handed her folded up flag; the Dave she had fought for, in life and in death, was lowered gently into the ground. He was buried surrounded by Cathy’s family; by his family.
“Ya know, the church and cemetery weren’t exactly bursting at the seams at Dave’s funeral,” said Cathy, “but he was remembered by the people who loved him the most. That’s what matters.”
Cathy Gore is still a happy, loving person. She’s continued dating; after all, she has a lot of love to give. But Dave does not stray very far from her mind. She used to listen to recordings and voicemails he had left her while they were together; however, one day, while at work, her phone died completely. She was unable to record the messages on another recording device and the lost messages were irretrievable.
“I miss the sound of his voice a lot,” said Cathy. “It was really hard for me to let go of those messages...now, when I want to hear him, it’s only in my memories. I could say I miss the way he used to look at me. But on this picture collage that I have hanging up on my sunroom, there are pictures of him giving me the look that I like. It just warms my heart.”
The caustic characters in this narrative still rear their heads on occasion; Dave’s roommates called Cathy asking for photos of Dave for the funeral up in Minneapolis. In the year that Dave had re-entered Cathy’s life, she had enough photos to fill a four by six collage, one that now sits in her sunroom. In the over ten years that Dave lived in Minneapolis with his roommates, they did not have a single photo of him. Dave’s son visited Cathy once, too. Dave had left a car in Cathy’s possession after his death, one that Dave’s son wanted. The car sat in Cathy’s driveway for a year. When he finally came around, there was not an ounce of empathy on his face. He kicked the tires a bit, circled the car a few times, and smiled; it was like Christmas morning for him.
“Is that all his life meant to you,’ I thought, ‘just a car?’” wondered Cathy. “Dave’s whole life, even after it, people were just there to take, take, take. I thought to myself, ‘It’s no wonder he developed cancer. It was just a physical manifestation of all the toxic people who had been in his life since the very beginning.’ All any of us really want in our journey here is to love and be loved and that was denied to him time and time and time again. For fifty years, he felt unloved and unwanted. And for his last one, he was with us.”
"Now, when I want to hear him, it’s only in my memories. I could say I miss the way he used to look at me. But on this picture collage that I have hanging up on my sunroom, there are pictures of him giving me the look that I like. It just warms my heart."
Dave is still remembered, in the photo collage, in the loving memories of Cathy and her children. He is still prayed for.“At church, we have All Souls’ Day in November,” said Cathy, “and the purpose of that service is to remember all the loved ones that have passed in the past year. Every family gets to carry up a candle in honor of their loved one, and of course we chose to honor Dave, and then everyone in our congregation prays for their immortal souls. Piper carried up the candle for our little family. I still struggle with the impact this had on the kids. But every time I saw people turn their backs on Dave, the more I wanted to embrace him as a part of our family. At the end of the day, I made the decision that sits well with me. There are far worse things in the world for my kids to see than love.”
Dave reentered Cathy’s life on June 3, 2016. He passed away on June 5, 2017. It was not a matter of the length of love, but of depth. In 367 days, he gained a family. In 367 days, he found God. In a year and two days, Dave Jones lived his whole life.
“Loving him was all-consuming,” said Cathy. “You know you love somebody when you put their needs ahead of your own and I think we have, Dave and I, a pretty unique love story, and I’m thankful that God saw fit to bring him back into my life and to use me in the capacity that He did, to be there for that man. Because I would ask Dave, ‘Do you feel loved? I want you to feel loved, because I have it for you in every fiber of my being.’ And he always would reply, ‘Yes. Yes, my angel. You make me feel loved.’ And you can see it in the way he looked at me when I was taking his pictures or how he held my hand. It was the most profound relationship, and it was only a year. But wow. What an impact it made. For both of us.”
Cathy grew up as a devout Catholic, and, while a journey like this may cause someone to turn their back on God, it strengthened her connection. She sees the experience as a life lesson; she felt the whole journey has helped her to find love again, to experience a kind of love she thought she forgot about. And how could she turn against God after a love like that? Daily, she talked to God and to Dave.
“I have never prayed for a person the way I have for Dave. I prayed everyday for a miracle,” Cathy said. “And every day, every day with him, it was.”