Dust in the wind

Every now and then I think of him.

The last time was Friday on my way to the Plum House, a Japanese restaurant on Monroe Avenue. I swung by his old house, curious to see if the new owners had ripped out the hulking evergreens blocking the front porch, the bay windows, and the lights within.

They hadn’t.

Before he died, composer David Diamond said he wanted his ashes to be spread between the graves of his parents in Mount Hope Cemetery. His long-time friend and former neighbor Sam Elliott did that for him, with some of the ashes. But Sam got an idea. He divided the remaining ashes into thirds and poured them into three 6-inch plastic vials with screw caps.

Then he booked a flight for Europe.

“I put them in a suitcase and hoped nobody busted me,” he told me.

First, Sam flew to Rome, a city David loved. He walked to the highest gravity-powered fountain in the city and emptied one vial. David's ashes began their long descent through the fountains of Rome into the Tiber River. Then Sam traveled to the villa in Florence, where the composer lived the 1950’s, and sprinkled the contents of another vial in the backyard. Finally, he journeyed to Paris, to the burial site of the composer’s teacher, Nadia Boulanger, and emptied the contents of the last vial over her grave.

“I don’t know if it made him feel better, but it made me feel better,” he said.

David's autobiography, The Midnight Sleep, has yet to be published. If it is, maybe it’ll shed some light on the inner life of Rochester's brilliant, homegrown neo-classical composer.

To hear NPR’s 2005 obit: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4703272