Monday, February 16, 2009

An end too soon

A friend who writes for the New York Times notes a sorrowful end to a younger man-older woman love affair. Flight 3407, the Continental Connection flight that crashed outside Buffalo, carried Coleman Mellett (pictured right, from a shot captured from the Times' site). Mr. Mellett was a 33-year-old jazz guitarist who often played with Chuck Mangione and who was married to a woman 17 years older. Details in the Times' article suggest Mr. Mellett and his wife, Jeanie Bryson, shared an artistic partnership as well as a marriage.

From the
Times article:
Mr. Mellett was married to Jeanie Bryson, 50, a jazz singer and the daughter of Dizzy Gillespie, with whom he would often perform. They lived in a ranch-style house in East Brunswick, N.J., a lifestyle that Mr. Mellett found ideal, far from the famed jazz clubs of Manhattan. Though he occasionally taught lessons to supplement his income, Mr. Mellett earned a steady salary from being part of Mr. Mangione’s ensemble. At Mr. Niewood’s prompting, Mr. Mellett also worked with the Radio City Music Hall orchestra during the “Christmas Spectacular” show.

As the friend who drew this article to my attention notes, Ms. Bryson likely did not expect to outlive her husband. With that age difference, it is likely Mr. Mellett is the one who anticipated grieving a spouse. Life – and death – gave them no say in who would go first, but what if some cruel God made us choose? I’d want to say “Take me first” so she could go on with all the joys of life, and I’d also want to say “Take her first,” because I can’t bear the idea of her grief. Our sympathies are with Ms. Bryson and all the families and friends mourning loved ones lost in the crash of Flight 3407.

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