The 8-8-88 love story I have shared in my last three posts is not the stuff of which Hollywood films are made. I will spare you additional details of my marriage and instead share a true account of an ordinary couple whose ultimate sacrifice raised their love to inspirational proportion.
The movie, Titanic, spiked adrenaline surges and a bonanza in Box Office and Kleenex sales. How could it do otherwise with Kate Winslet and Leonardo De Caprio steaming up the screen? I enjoy passion and a bit of eye candy as much as the next person. The love scene in the Renault Coup de Ville is hot—both the car and the sex.
The Titanic’s genuine love story, however, was not the fictional creation about Jack and Rose, but rather the devotion and deaths of Isador and Ida Straus. Isador was part owner of Macy’s. The couple was wealthy, but their personal lives caught no one’s attention. Neither sixty-seven-year-old Isador nor sixty-three-year-old Ida were beautiful, or Hollywood glamorous. Neither Isidor nor Ida appeared extraordinary as they walked up the ship’s gangplank that ill-fated day. Unremarkable as they seemed, the couple was devoted to one another. They almost always traveled together, were rarely apart, and when circumstances forced short separations, they wrote to each other daily.
On the night of the disaster, a call to board the lifeboats was broadcast. Isidor escorted Ida to the deck. Lifeboat 8 was being filled with women and children. As a member of the elite class, Isador was offered a seat in the same lifeboat as Ida. He refused, telling the ship’s commander that he would not go before the other men.
Then Ida refused to step into the small boat. It was reported that the last words anyone remembered her speaking were to her husband as he urged her to leave him.
She said, “We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go.”
(Next week, the last hours of a love story that survives death.)