When I started Kerfuffle a little over a year ago, no one but me really read it. That was mostly because I never told anyone I was writing it. I just did it, partly for fun and partly to see if I could actually write enough stuff to keep it relevant and interesting. Some would say that's still under review, but these days it averages about 10 visits a day, half from some random search and the other half directly to the front page.
One of the very first people I told about it was Tom's dad and my de facto father-in-law, Bruce Wright. Bruce never once left a comment, but in conversation he would reference many posts which meant he was actually reading them. Some of them would warrant an e-mail commentary; others the occasional telephone reference. But he really did like stopping by here. I knew that well enough that some of the posts were written pretty much just for the two of us to enjoy.
Bruce passed away this morning, surrounded by his wife of 51 years and his four children. He had been fighting stage three lung cancer for about five months, and finally came to peace with things and decided it was time to let go. To know Bruce was to know he was a "do-er." (Tom is truly his father's son.) He would be up before the sun, crafting some new project, repairing something, or otherwise being active and productive. He is legendary for unique (and at times downright odd) solutions to incidental needs. This man would do more before breakfast than I do in a week.
One of Bruce's loves was tools and machines. He always had a workshop, and his stuff actually got used. When Eileen and he sold the big house on Lake Carroll and downsized, he still insisted on cutting his own grass... several times a week. When that wasn't enough, he'd drive the two hours each way to come up to our place, get out "Woodsie," the zero-turn mower he pretty much considered his, and happily mow all the tall grass out to the main road. In fact, the last time Bruce was at our house, last September, he came up to mow and then he and I went over to Heather's Rockdale Bar and Grill -- a favorite of his -- for cheeseburgers and pints of Capital Amber. The curly fries were not on the diet Eileen tried to get him to follow, nor was the cheeseburger. But, then, Eileen wasn't there and what she didn't know wouldn't hurt him, he told me with a wink. I'll treasure that memory.
Tom's down in Florida with his sisters and his mother. They're having an informal gathering of close friends down there before coming back to Illinois on Tuesday. So that we'd not each spend the day alone, I got together with two of Bruce's grand daughters for lunch today. While it involved a drive from here to Milwaukee to New Lenox (IL) and then back here again, it was worth it for the three of us to share some stories and just be together.
Tom didn't come out to his parents until after we met, so I was part of the coming out story. Bruce was accepting from the get-go, and told Tom that if anyone in the family had a problem with his being gay or having a same-sex partner, they'd have to deal with him. Others can only dream of such support. In a very short period of time, I was afforded all the status of the other brothers-in-law, and never for an instant felt anyting less than sincerely welcome. It was Bruce who set the tone. No wonder he became not only my dad-in-law of sorts, but a treasured friend as well.
While Bruce and I didn't have a huge amount in common, one thing we shared was an affection for a certain green bottle. His preferred version was all-business: Tanqueray on the rocks, nothing added. I'm more of an "up with some olives" kind of guy. But tonight, mine will be on the rocks, hold the garnish.
Farewell, my dear friend. I shall miss you more than these words can convey. Much more.