CHICAGO — At a time like this, we all need a love story — even if it means saying goodbye.
Irv Kaage Jr. said he has lost both his mother and father in the last 36 hours due to COVID-19.. Irv and Muriel Kaage died this week, but it’s their lives, not their deaths, that really stand out.
“My folks really had an endearing love story that began when my dad was 21, my mom was 20. My dad had a friend who had a friend who was a driver for Chicago Motorcoach and he said, ‘One day you should come with me because there’s this most beautiful girl, and you should meet her.’ And she chose to sit next to him,” Kaage Jr. said.
That was the beginning of a life long love of more than 70 years. They honeymooned at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in its glory days — they used all of the $100 they had saved up.
They settled in Edison Park, on Chicago’s Northwest Side.
Kaage Jr. was the proprietor of the old Kaage Newstand that still sits on Northwest Highway. On Tuesday, bunting is in place, spreading the news of their loss.
“He used to say, ‘I’m just a newspaper boy. That’s it.’ But he was so much more than that and the outpouring of friends and family, and people we didn’t even know has been really gratifying and tribute to his life, which is richly deserved,” Kaage Jr. said.
About a year and a half ago, the Kaages moved to assisted living. But it wasn’t until just the past few weeks, that the things took a turn, when the pandemic took its course. Muriel Kaage had a high fever, and Irv Kaage was having trouble breathing. They were both brought within 12 hours of each other to Lutheran General in Park Ridge.
Their son said they started to go downhill.
“And I said, ‘Is there anything you need? Anything I can get for you?’” Kaage Jr. said. “And he said ‘Momma.’ And I said, ‘I’m working on it, Dad. Give me a little time. I’m trying to get you guys together.”
He said he spoke to the hospital’s nursing staff and said it was imperative that the two be placed together so they could hold hands. And it was there in the hospice room they spent their final hours — together.
Irv Kaage, 92, died on Sunday afternoon and on Tuesday morning, 36 hours later, Muriel Kaage, who was almost 91, went to join him — leaving a legacy of love for their kids and grandkids.