Listeners' Letters About Danny Perasa

Danny Perasa died last week after fighting pancreatic cancer for months. Morning Edition first met Danny and his wife Annie two years ago when they interviewed each other for StoryCorps. Danny Perasa will be buried today. Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne read from listeners' letters.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

We have more to tell you this morning about two people who charmed many of our listeners. We first met Danny Perasa and his wife Annie Perasa when they interviewed each other for Story Corps. That's the project that gives every day people the chance to interview one another, adding to an oral history of America at the Library of Congress. Here's part of the story we heard from them 2 years ago.

Mr. DANNY PERASA: I always feel guilty when I say I love you to you. And I say it so often. I say it to remind you that, as dumpy as I am, it's coming from me. It's like hearing a beautiful song from a busted old radio. And it's nice of you to keep the radio around the house.

Mrs. ANNIE PERASA: If I don't have a note on the kitchen table, I think there's something wrong. You write a love letter to me every morning.

Mr. PERASA: Well, the only thing that could possibly be wrong is that I couldn't find a silly pen.

MONTAGNE: Danny Perasa, he recently learned that he was dying of cancer, and last Friday, the Perasas returned to this program to talk about it. Hundreds of you wrote in to express your sympathy and your appreciation. That afternoon, even as some of those letters were read to Annie, Danny died. He was 68 years old.

Danny Perasa will be buried today, and some of your letters will be read at the funeral. We'd like to share a few of them here.

INSKEEP: Maria Yvette Berazo(ph) wrote from El Paso, Texas, to tell Danny and Annie, "Your voices have touched a lot of hearts. Your story gives us real hope of real love between real people. I can go back home and tell my kids, look, listen. Your life can be like this."

MONTAGNE: Dan Brown writes, "My wife and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary. Actually, celebrated is an overstatement. We're having a tough time right now. In fact, I was sitting here considering a separation. I was going to leave today, but then I heard you guys on the radio, and I'm crying in my office, happy for the gift of my wife, and happy for th slight glimpse of hope you've given me. I'm going home tonight. From the bottom of my heart, thanks."

INSKEEP: Kate Bryte(ph) of Pennsylvania sent this email. "Listening to the words of people who are completely unafraid to love each other gave me a feeling of hope."

MONTAGNE: "I am in your debt," writes Dick Ziegler(ph) of Wichita, Kansas. "I just finished listening to the continuation of your love affair with each other and with life. Since your story has been assured longetivity by placement in the Library of Congress, future generations who pay attention to the nature of humankind will be afforded the opportunity to learn from your love. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers, not as strangers, but as travelers who are battling life's dragons with humor, love, and an unquestioning bond of togetherness."

INSKEEP: Those are some of the letters sent to Danny and Annie Perasa. Danny Perasa will be buried today in Brooklyn. If you'd like to send a note of condolence to Annie Perasa, and read listerners' reaction to their story, go to npr.org.

MONTAGNE: And we'll leave you with part of the final interview Danny and Annie Perasa conducted together.

Mr. PERASA: She lights up the room in the morning when she tells me to put both hands on her shoulders, so she can support me. She lights up my life when she says to me at night, "Wouldn't you like a little ice cream?" Or "Would you please drink more water?" I mean, those aren't very romantic things to say, but they stir my heart. In my mind, in my heart, there has never been; there is not now, and never will be another Annie.

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