Love—and death—in a grain elevator


She slowly slipped her bare leg over his, and he knew what it meant. It wasn't time to sleep after all. He rolled over, bringing his own leg up and over hers, accidently cutting her right calf with an overgrown toenail. She cursed and kicked him.

She bled slowly but ignored it, moving her lips toward his. It was dark and she missed, hitting his nostrils instead. He climbed on top of her, but the weight made it difficult for her to breathe. She asked him to climb off, and he did, but as he shifted his weight he broke wind and whispered an apology. She climbed on top of him, wondering silently if her initial come-on had been wise. The effort tonight was a struggle. It wasn't always.

She soon felt him ready for her and before long they were making love smoothly and in rhythm. They could have been 20 again...until her back went out.

This was a couple 29 years into a marriage and no longer bent on re-creating Hollywood love scenes. Their scenes now were entirely their own.

There was the morning he brought a prop to bed purchased at an auto parts store and was told to find the receipt and take it back, then the night she wore a negligee that bothered him because it resembled one his mother owned, and the waterbed incident when the cruise-ship motion caused her to regurgitate on his lower back.

They were clumsy but devoted lovers. He thought of no one else, and she thought of almost no one else. The fact that during lovemaking she occasionally imagined he was Kenny from the lamp repair shop didn't seem improper. She knew Kenny couldn't make love because of wounds from Vietnam and thought she provided something of a service by occasionally allowing him into the bedroom of her imagination.

She mentioned on one occasion that she found Kenny handsome, and her husband responded by arriving the next night with yet another prop—this time a wheelchair. The lovemaking that evening was long and passionate.

They went to films and studied love scenes but rarely saw themselves in the characters. He once said he wished they could be like movie stars, and she suggested they put themselves in their own video. The following day he bought camera equipment and set it up near their bed. It was hit and miss. The first time through he captured only their legs. The second time just his own face. He marveled at how easily, taken out of context, that face could be mistaken for Mel Gibson's in the torture scene from Braveheart.

They visited bookstores and read paperbacks with titles like Seven Secrets to Bedroom Bliss. They experimented with role-playing, in which she would be a type-A news anchor and he a timid meteorology intern.

It was that effort to stay in tune with each other sexually that kept their marriage invigorated and alive. It gave them something to look forward to during the long hours at the post office where they had met three decades earlier and where they both still worked.

They found sex every bit as enjoyable as watching wrestling or going to Menards. They even thought of writing their own book about it, stapling it together themselves, and selling it at a garage sale.

That's why, when they died last Monday experimenting with lovemaking in a neighbor's grain silo, it was so bittersweet.

They were found upside down at the base of the shaft; emergency responders were unable to resuscitate them.

Today it was announced that in keeping with their wishes, they will be cremated, their ashes buried in the Maple Grove dog park where they wed.

Yet another Twin Cities couple comes and goes, passing through here almost unnoticed, leaving only the mark of their love.

God rest your souls, Paul and Barb Liebemann.