It’s a Wonderful Life

Flipping through the Chicago Sun-Times this morning, I came across the following article by staff writer, Maureen O’Donnell. In noting the recent deaths of a long-married couple, Ms. O’Donnell offers a life-affirming look into their world.

Chicago couple was inseparable in life, death

PATRICIA DEMURO | 1926-2010 & LOU DEMURO | 1925-2010:

Chicago natives did everything together, died within hours of each other

The rest of the world receded a little when pretty Patricia Assise watched cute Lou DeMuro play 16-inch softball at Kells Park on the West Side. It was the summer of ’47.

They were engaged by the following Valentine’s Day and married later that year. 

Lou and Patricia gave their daughter and two sons an old-fashioned Chicago upbringing in a Northwest Side two-flat before moving to California this year. They met at Kells Park on the West Side and shared a modest lifestyle that was rich in love, their daughter Jan said. Their life together had few frills but many laughs. They would sing the 1950s hit “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” They listened to the soundtracks from “South Pacific” and “Mary Poppins” hundreds of times. The louder their kids sang along, the more the DeMuros smiled.

“It was a simple life, but it was rich,” said their daughter, Jan Griffin. “I remember Dad barbecuing and getting the biggest kick out of watching us play.” The couple liked to make Italian sausage from scratch, hand-cranking out a fennel-laced recipe that their kids said was so good, it spoiled them for anything else.  Molded by the Depression, Mrs. DeMuro could whip up tasty “meatballs” — made from crackers and eggs — or create a meal from the edible greens that some Italian-Americans picked from vacant lots, then battered and fried.

The DeMuros were a tag team when it came to raising their three kids: Jan, Lou and David. When Mr. DeMuro got home from work, he was a hands-on parent, so Patricia DeMuro could head to her night job.

They roller-skated, bowled and played pinochle together and even used his-and-hers lawnmowers to mow their grass side-by-side, said their son Lou. They did everything together. So it was fitting that, at the end, they died together, succumbing within hours of each other from a multitude of ailments.

They had moved just last month to the San Diego area, to be near their daughter. But Mr. DeMuro — who had leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes — soon was in hospice care at their senior apartment. And Mrs. DeMuro — with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart failure — was soon on a ventilator at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. Their children knew it was only a matter of time. So, on June 28, they had an ambulance bring Mr. DeMuro to the hospital on a gurney to be with his wife. He greeted his bride of 62 years as he always had: “Hi, Babe.”

“They had them facing one another in their individual beds, and we put their hands on top of one another so they could hold hands,” their daughter said. “Mom was awake. She said, ‘Lou, I love you. I had a wonderful life. I’ll see you in another place.’ ”

The DeMuros spent a contented couple of hours near each other. Then, it was time for Lou DeMuro to go back to hospice. “I had to tell Dad, ‘You aren’t going to see Mom again,” their daughter said. At 1:20 p.m. that day, Mrs. DeMuro slipped away. Mr. DeMuro grew restless and distraught. He was gone at 6:45 p.m.

A celebration of their lives is being planned for later this year at Our Lady of Sorrows Cemetery in Hillside.

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