MINNEAPOLIS—Tragedy has once again befallen 27-year-old pizza-delivery driver Dick Donovan, whose beloved "Grandma Melissa" died Monday at age 87 following a long battle with heart cancer. She was Donovan's sixth grandmother to pass on in the past eight months.
Donovan's biggest loss since the untimely death of his Grandma Brittany last Friday, Grandma Melissa's passing forced the aspiring bass guitarist to miss work at D'Angelo's Pizza for three days in order to attend the family matriarch's funeral.
"Yeah, Mike, I'm at the service right now," Donovan told Mike Mosedale, his boss at D'Angelo's Pizza, via telephone from the First Avenue Funeral Home in downtown Minneapolis. "It's very moving, you know, and she looks really natural, and I have a suit on."
"She was a big Widespread Panic fan," Donovan added. "That's why you can hear them in the background."
Though he is remaining stoic, the tragic loss has clearly shaken Donovan. "It's never easy to lose one grandma," Donovan said. "But to lose as many as I have, well, it's almost too much to bear."
Donovan's string of grandmother-passings began this past February, when paternal grandmother Trish Donovan suffered a fatal leukemia attack, causing Donovan to miss two days of work and a weekend ice-fishing trip to Rainy Lake with a group of friends. Barely a month later, Elaine Donovan, another paternal grandmother, succumbed to arthritis just before friend Jimmy Gaines held an all-day 26th-birthday bash, which Donovan described as "apparently awesome."
"I understand the party was incredible, especially the part where Jimmy got so wasted, he threw up on the ping-pong table," Donovan said. "It's just too bad I missed it, what with the death of that last grandmother and all."
The string of deaths continued in May, when the mothers of Donovan's adoptive parents died on the same weekend, of Babe Ruth's Disease and multiple dystrophy, just before the opening of Star Wars: Episode I and his band's gig at Lee's Liquor Lounge.
But the most recent loss, Donovan said, may be the most painful yet.
"To think I'm never gonna see her knit and do all that old-lady stuff again really hurts," Donovan said. "And, what's worse, I just found out one of my grandfathers is sick. They say he might not last until the open-air Battle Of The Bands show on the 18th down at Peavey Plaza."
"Whoa, I've got to go now," the grief-stricken Donovan added. "Brad Zellar's van is coming up the street. We're totally road-tripping to the wake."