Category Archives: Personal

Thanksgiving Day menu

[cross-posted from And Still I Persist]

We have family and friends coming over for dinner (actually, two of our grandsons have been here since Sunday; we’ve been having a great time with the Wii, the ping pong table, and the air hockey table), a total of 10 people. Here’s what I’m fixing for dinner:

  • roast turkey (22.5 lbs)
  • corn bread stuffing (water chestnuts, whole cranberries, sliced almonds, celery, onion)
  • mashed potatoes (new potatoes, skin on, lots of butter)
  • sweet potatoes kittichai (mashed sweet potatoes plus coconut milk)
  • mixed steamed fresh veggies (green beans, broccoli, broccolini, brussle sprouts, carrots)
  • homemade cheese sauce (Sandra’s contribution)
  • roast acorn and delicata squash (1 each, small, mostly for the novelty)
  • Pillsbury Grands! rolls (hey, gotta take a shortcut somewhere)
  • homemade cranberry sauce (made with orange juice and fresh orange zest)
  • homemade pumpkin and mince pies, with homemade whipped cream

Note that “homemade” for the pies means Pillsbury roll-out crusts, jarred mince filling, and canned 100% pumpkin filling (plus requisite sugar, spices, eggs, and condensed milk). I actually made a pumpkin pie from scratch many years ago (e.g., cut up and cooked the pumpkin, made the crust from scratch, etc.), and I decided it’s just not worth the time and effort.

This is a feast day, and a day for giving thanks. I was going to write a longer posting about the meaning of this day, but then I remembered that I did that last year, so just consider that post included by reference. In spite of the current financial turmoil, we still live in the land of greatest opportunity and freedom. And with our son still over in Iraq, we are especially mindful and grateful for all the sacrifices made for those freedoms. God bless us, everyone.  ..bruce w..

Child of the Year moments

Heather O. over at Mommy Mormon Wars has a posting about “Another Mother of the Year moment” (which involves her toddler daughter stuffing her mouth with holly berries). The comments (be sure to read them all) have similar “I can’t believe I did that” parental moments.

In fairness to Heather O. and the rest, however, many of these moments are less the parents’ fault than simply the consequences of having children. I think that many of my mom’s gray hairs come from my own actions — and I started young. Here are some examples:

1958 (age 5, living in Imperial Beach, California):

— The street we live on has (as I recall) no sidewalks — just yards that go right up to the street. After a heavy rain, there are wonderful large puddles in the worn depressions along the shoulder of the road. As I go out to play, my mom tells me, “Don’t play in those mud puddles with your clothes on.” A while later, she gets a call from a neighbor who says that I’m playing stark naked in one of the large puddles — with my clothes carefully laid out on the neighbor’s lawn.

— There was an abandoned workshop or garage across the street; I thought of it as a “barn”, but it was far too low for that. I used to climb up to the roof and jump off. In fact, I very much loved jumping off of high places until I was about 9 or 10. Then I suddenly developed a fear of heights. I don’t know if that was just a realization of what I was doing, or the result of an unpleasant jump whose details I’ve blotted out completely.

1958-1960 (ages 5-7, living in Naval housing outside of Subic Bay, Philippine Islands):

— I used to leave the Naval housing area (West Kalayaan) and wander in the surrounding jungle. On at least one occasion, I took the first aid kit from my house, and a friend (same age) and I wandered into the jungle, found a nearby Negrito village, and tried to ask them if they had any cuts that needed band-aids. (They spoke no English.) It’s been nearly 50 years, but I remember the warm (and, in retrospect, probably amused) smile on the face of the native — an older man not dressed in much more than a loincloth — who tried to talk with us and who offered us coffee in a tin cup.

— I was crawling around an abandoned pillbox (probably Japanese) in the jungle and cut myself (on a rusty piece of rebar) on the inside of my thigh. Rather than tell my mom when I got home, I just put a large band-aid on it. Luckily, I was wearing shorts; she spotted the band-aid, asked me about it, took the band-aid off, and then transported me to the Naval hospital, where I got two stitches and a tetanus booster.

— On a regular basis, a truck pulling a trailer would wend its way through the Naval housing area. The trailer had a DDT sprayer that would emit dense clouds of wonderful-smelling DDT fog. We (the neighborhood kids) would play tag in the DDT fog.

— My older brother Chip and I would go down to a construction area on the outskirts of the housing area near sundown to throw dirt clods at the fruit bats.  Chip and I also used to capture large beetles and make them fight each other.

— I remember on a few occasions walking from the Subic Bay base itself to the naval housing area and noting with keen interest the signs along the side of the road saying, “Danger! Quicksand!”

1960-61 (ages 7-8, Astoria, OR):

— We lived in Naval housing again, with the (moderate) rain forests starting at our back yard. I used to wander through these woods at will — alone or with a friend — and capture snakes. My friend Paul and I once captured 26 snakes in one day. I kept large numbers of snakes in two unused trash cans behind our duplex. Somehow, in all this, I never once caught or encountered a poisonous snake.

And so on.  Your own stories?  If you need some different inspiration, here’s a post over at made two years ago in response to some school banning tag; the comment thread is still going.  ..bruce..

An embarrassing personal story involving BYU football

True story. I know. It happened to me.

In the fall of 1974, I had returned to BYU after spending two years in Central America on my mission. I quickly started dating someone whom I had dated in high school and during my freshman year at BYU as well. After several weeks, I proposed to her (which she accepted) — and then after a few weeks decide that I wasn’t ready to be engaged. She and I had been talking about marriage since high school, but I wanted to be sure I was marrying her because I was ready and willing to be married. I wanted to date around to be sure that she was my choice for marriage, not just a habit.  So I ended the engagement, though I was sure we would ended up getting married (which we did, about a year later).

Anyway, this was still in the fall of 1974. A day or two after the breakup, I get a phone call from another girl — Chris — whom I had also dated my freshman year at BYU, and who had written me from time to time when I was on my mission. (I was very careful not to leave a “waiting” girlfriend behind when I left on my mission, which had the unforeseen — but welcome — effect of having about five different girls write me.) Anyway, Chris has two tickets for that Saturday’s game, which I believe was against Arizona State and which was being telecast regionally (including in Provo). I’m not sure Chris knew about my engagement or its abrupt end (though knowing Chris, I wouldn’t be surprised if she did); as far as I knew, she was just asking me out to the game, and since the whole reason I had ended the engagement was to ‘date around’, I accept.

OK, so we get together and head to the stadium. Chris is giving off the “It’s sure great to see you after two years!” vibes, linking her arm through mine. We get to the game, it starts, and the other team (ASU) takes the lead and holds it for some time. Then BYU starts getting some points. Each time BYU scores, we jump up and yell, and Chris turns to me with that “Let’s hug each other!” vibe (ok, boys and girls, you know what I mean). I ignore it after the first BYU touchdown — hey, I was just engaged a few days earlier — and even after the second BYU touchdown. But on the third BYU touchdown — when BYU takes the lead in the ballgame, and the whole stadium goes crazy — I figure, “Hey, why not?” And so I turn and give Chris a big bear hug, which she enthusiastically returns.

Unbeknownst to me, the network TV camera is at that very moment panning across the screaming BYU fans. It then stops and zooms in on — Chris and me enthusiastically hugging each other. It apparently holds there long enough, and zoomed in enough, so that everyone at BYU who knows me and who is watching the game on TV clearly recognizes (a) that it’s me, (b) that the girl I’m hugging is not my fiancee (or ex-fiancee, but nobody knows that yet, or almost nobody.), and (c) we appear to be enjoying the hugging (which, frankly, we were).

I remain clueless about this televised exposure until I get a call from someone that evening after the game (I honestly don’t remember who), telling me that my ex-fiancee was watching the game with several friends and was, well, we shall say, not amused. My first thought is: “Uh-oh.” (Actually, my first thought may have been a bit more profane than that, though probably not out loud.)

Yep, the next morning, at my BYU ward, before meetings even start, a girl I know comes up to me and says, “Bruce, it’s funny — I was watching the BYU game on TV yesterday, and at one point they zoomed in the crowd, and I saw someone who looked just like you — but the girl he was hugging didn’t look like your fiancee.” I smiled (sort of) and said, “Yes, well, that was me, and no, that wasn’t my fiancee, but we actually broke off our engagement earlier this week.” She said, “Oh!” and smiled at me in a way that clearly said, “You pathetic scum — you broke off your engagement a few days ago and you’re already hugging other girls?” and then walked off.

This scene was repeated quite a few times that day and in the next several days that followed.

The real irony is that I’m pretty sure that Chris and I didn’t go out a second time.

I’m sure there’s some great lesson in here somewhere, but I think it boils down to, if you’re breaking off an engagement, let everyone know and wait for at least a few weeks before going out with anyone else. Not a great life’s lesson, except possibly for me (since I have been engaged roughly five times in my entire life). But there you have it.  ..bruce..

Why I’m leaving the Democratic Party

I have a lengthy post on one of my other blogs as to why the Left’s vicious and hypocritical reaction to Sarah Palin’s nomination has led me to finally leave the Democratic Party after 37 years:

The Democrats like to complain about “the politics of personal destruction”, even as they have mastered it (again, since Bill Clinton’s ascension in 1992). But the absolute frothing rage and vile, hypocritical and/or false attacks that have followed hard upon the announcement of Sarah Palin as the GOP Vice-Presidential candidate have left me appalled beyond words. The Left has shown once again that no one surpasses them at their willingness to utterly trash anyone — especially women and minorities — who defy or threaten them.

Here’s a simple thought experiement: suppose that Sarah Palin were a Democrat and had been chosen by Barack Obama as his VP candidate. Virutally everything that the Left is attacking Sarah Palin on right now would instead be touted as “real-world experience and understanding”, especially her time as mayor of a small town in Alaska.  They would fiercly mock any criticism, however mild, of Bristol’s pregnancy; they would tout Sarah’s choice to keep Trig (their Down’s Syndrome child) as showing how much of a ‘big tent’ the Democratic party has; and they would shout to the heavens Palin’s reformist credentials, particularly her fight against corrupt Republicans in Alaskan government.

For what it’s worth.  ..bruce..

Aging with grace

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

This morning , I was listening as usual to the 7 am rebroadcast of last week’s “Music and the Spoken Word” on BYU TV (I’m usually at church when the 9:30 am live broadcast comes on). The closing number was “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, always one of my favorite hymns (and one that needs to be in our LDS hymn books). By the end of the performance, I was weeping — and not (just) because of the beauty of the arrangement and the singing. This hymn, like few others, speaks to my deepest struggles and frustrations in my own personal life.

I joined the Church at age 14, some 41 years ago. Through those four decades, I always assumed that by, let’s say, age 55 I’d be a lot more perfected than I am. As I have stated any number of times in talks and lessons at church, including just last week, the power of the Atonement is not just the power to cleanse us — it is also the power to perfect us, to change our hearts, to receive Christ’s image in our countenance.

Yet a few months ago I ran across some note cards I had written on twenty years earlier listing goals and areas for improvement in my life. With no little dismay, I saw that I could just as easily have written them just a week earlier instead of nearly half a lifetime ago. Where the change of heart, where the progress, where the perfection?

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I’m come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

It may just be me, but I wonder if we as Latter-day Saints generally tend to shift from focusing on works to relying on grace as we grow older. This doesn’t mean that we abandon our efforts at service to others and personal righteousness — quite the contrary — but that we realize how far short we will always fall from where we need to be. We struggle with the trivial and the mundane, and wonder how we’d ever deal with the wrenching and the profound — not always realizing that it is the starkness of the latter that often makes those decisions easier. It is in the day-to-day things that we often trip up.

As I grow older, I understand better the repetition of the phrase “endure to the end” in the scriptures. A large part of that enduring is, I think, enduring ourselves, particularly our own imperfections, and not becoming discouraged thereby. I think we run the real risk of giving up in frustration at our own failings, at the messes large and small that we’ve made in our own lives and the lives of those around us. It is why I think Paul and Mormon placed “hope” right between “faith” and “charity” — it is hope that keeps us bound to Christ, even when faced with our own sins, errors, and weaknesses.

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

This last verse is the one that makes me weep. It captures my fears, my frustrations, my hopes, and my pleas to God. The foundation of my hope is that I’m pretty good at enduring; beyond that, I simply have to trust that God’s grace will do the rest.  ..bruce..

[cross-posted over at Mormon Mentality]

A Father’s Day post for my wife

I have had the honor — and burden — of writing and delivering not just my own father’s eulogy, but the eulogy for my father-in-law as well. These were two fine men who, while not perfect, did their best to raise and provide for their families. I still strive to live up to their examples. And just in the past few months, I’ve had the tremendous honor of doing my father’s temple work (including, just a few weeks ago, doing his endowment work).

Beyond that, my thoughts this day really turn to my sweet wife, Sandra. She and I were both married previously, and neither of us ever expected or wanted those prior (temple) marriages to end. When we married one another back in 1986, both at the age of 33, we found ourselves with nine (count ’em!) nine kids under the age of 14. Needless to say, those early years of marriage were quite interesting, as was the 20-year span of raising teenagers. Now we’re empty-nesters (for the 3rd time, actually), and I work at home, so we’re together constantly — and I never tire of it. Each day with her is a gift and a delight.

Here’s a poem I wrote for her a few years after our temple sealing (which itself didn’t take place until a few years after our civil marriage); it still best sums up how I feel about her and about our marriage:

Two years on

To Sandra, on the 2nd anniversary of our sealing, 11/05/90

Two steps towards eternity
Widdershins about the sun,
A dance of light in time and space
That leads beyond.

Threads of glory wind around
And bind us into unity,
Pulled by love’s accretion to
Celestial singularity.

Natural as gravity —
As others note with but a glance —
Our lives collide and coalesce.
But oh! the fire in the dance!

Sandra is the love of my life and as pure an evidence of God’s grace in my life as anything I’ve encountered in my 55 years. As I told her a few days ago — when she wondered out loud what to get me for Father’s Day — just waking up next to her each morning is all the gift I ever need. ..bruce..

Zion: a not-so-distant view

The Bloggernacle is permeated with a certain level of criticism about the LDS Church and its members — a lot of it mild and affectionate, or at least tolerant, and often meant to be constructive. But a fair amount of it is quite negative, hostile or even scathing. Yet there are weeks like this where I will cheerfully match up Latter-day Saints against any other group of people you care to name. Here’s what took place in the past week or so in our ward:

1) A young married woman in our ward got news a bit over a week ago that her brother (in another state, also married) had disappeared under unusual circumstances. We had a ward fast for her extended family last weekend. Her brother’s body was found early this past week, and several women in our ward pitched in to help her, her husband, and their young chidlren pull things together on short notice to travel out of state for her brother’s funeral and burial. While this family has been gone, the sisters in the wards put together about 10 days of frozen meals for them for when they get back, while the elders spent a good part of yesterday doing extensive yardword and home repairs around their house.

2) A middle-aged member of the Church — who has been inactive since his teenage years, and whose wife and three kids are not members — started coming back to church some weeks back when he found himself unemployed, broke and on the brink of foreclosure. The church provided critical help, while our ward employment director worked with him for three weeks and helped him find a new job and a new place to live. The elders and high priests came out on two successive weekday evening to help his family move all the belongings to their new place; elders from his new ward were there to help unload as well.

3) The mayor of our town (not LDS) has always been friendly and cooperative with the LDS wards here, particularly with the youth activities; I’ve seen him personally attend an Eagle Scout court of honor at our ward. The young men and young women in our ward and another one in our building wanted to show their appreciation, so about 40 of them showed up at his house yesterday and spent most of the morning doing extensive yardwork that he hasn’t had the time to do. He and his wife just watched in amazement.

4) An older couple in our ward were sealed in the temple yesterday, and their 18-year-old son sealed to them. The husband was inactive for many years, and the wife was not a member, but they started coming to church a few years back when their son started investigating the Church and then was baptized. The mother was baptized a year ago, and the parents have been teaching one of the youth Sunday school classes for several months. The temple sealing room was filled to overflowing with both his children (and some grandkids) from his previous marriage as well as members of the ward. All three of them — the husband, the wife, and the son — bore their testimonies in church today, as did one of his granddaughters (a returned missionary).

5) About a year ago, I got a call late one weekday evening from a woman in our ward. A family across the street — not members — had been literally evicted from their house (all their belongings thrown out on the front lawn), and they were slowly trying to load it into a truck to move elsewhere, but were clearly overwhelmed. She asked what we could do. I called the high priests group leader, and within 30 minutes, we had 20 or so brethren from the ward there. We loaded up the family’s moving truck once, followed it about 20 miles away to their new residence, unloaded it, then came back and went through the process a second time; by the time we were done, it was about 1:00 am.

The same woman who called me a year ago took me aside today to say that the wife and children of that family were baptized yesterday, and the husband is working towards baptism as well. She said that they were so stunned by the willingness of 20 or so total strangers to give them such extensive help that they had to find out more about this church.

6) Oh, and the younger son of the Nigerian family that moved into our ward a year ago was baptized yesterday (after turning 8). The remarkable thing there is that there’s nothing remarkable; the husband’s a high priest, the wife is heavily involved in Relief Society, and the kids are, well, kids, and they’re all just part of the ward famly.

During the fast and testimony meeting today, one sister — a close friend of the young married woman whose brother died — got up, thanked all those who had helped, and said, through tears, “I am so proud to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and of this ward.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. ..bruce..

Life in the Foreign Service

Kenny and Linsey are two of our closest and dearest friends. Sandra & I met them back in DC when they were still single and uninvolved with each other. We watched their courtship, heartily approved of their engagement, and traveled to Utah to be there for their wedding. They were regulars at our DC BBQs and — along with Matt & Cassidy (two more C&DFs) — would hang out to help clean up and talk with us afterwards.  Kenny and I ended up serving together in the bishopric as well.

Kenny passed the Foreign Service exam and went to work for the US State Department; not long after Sandra & I moved to Colorado, Kenny & Linsey headed down to Peru. Linsey has been writing a blog about their experiences, and her latest posting chronicles a week — over the Memorial Day weekend — during which Kenny was the US Embassy Duty Office. A brief extract from the post:

We are at dinner with 2 very tired and uncooperative children: Eliza calls from Spain to say that her ex-husband, who does not have custody of their 8 year old daughter, has been arrested while traveling in Peru with the daughter and now the child is somewhere in Peru in custody of the authorities. This turns out to be the tip of the iceberg of a very complicated story, some of which was true, much of which was sketchy and patently untrue. It took most of the weekend to unravel.

Heh. Read the whole thing.  ..bruce..

A eulogy

[While digging through my family history files for something else, I found a copy of the eulogy I gave at the funeral of Avard “Andy” Anderson, my father-in-law, some sixteen years ago, in August 1992. Since I’ve already posted my own father’s eulogy on line, I wanted to post Andy’s eulogy as well.]

All too often, we measure status in the Church — and standing before the Lord — by positions held, particularly those held lately. We sometimes talk of Church careers and promotions, as if the Kingdom were a business. When we gather together, we find ways subtle and overt to let others know what callings we’ve had, feeling self-assured if we’ve held what are commonly called “high” positions, and feeling self-doubt if someone much younger has held higher positions.

By such standards, Avard Anderson — my father-in-law — was not a “success”. He spent over twenty-five years traveling through the US and Canada, building smokestacks. He never stayed in one place very long, living and working in over 100 different locations during that time. When he finally retired, he settled here in Orem and spent the rest of his life enjoying time with Nora, their children, and the ever-growing stream of grandkids. Throughout the nearly fifty years since Dad and Mom were married, he was never called as a bishop, never appointed to serve on a stake high council, never asked to be a member of a stake presidency.

And yet…and yet I think Dad has laid up for himself a reward in heaven which any of us would be thrilled to have. During all those years, he usually lived far from the population centers of the Church, at a time when total Church membership was barely a tenth of what it is today. He served in a succession of branches and small wards, providing leadership and support to the members there. He was always ready to show Christ-like service to all he’d come in contact with, and when he felt it was appropriate, he’d bear his humble, honest testimony — and more than a few people heard it, were touched, and were baptized. He, Mom and the kids faithfully attended their meetings wherever they lived, even though at times they lived 20 to 30 miles from the meetinghouse, and the meeting schedule back then was far less convenient: Priesthood and Sunday School in the morning, Sacrament in the evening, and Primary, Mutual, and Relief Society during the week. All this was done not to impress others, gain appreciation, or to somehow qualify for higher callings, but because it was the right thing to do — and Dad felt he owed it to the Lord to do the right thing.

I think of Dad as a Johnny Appleseed, planting seeds and nurturing branches, setting an example and quietly serving others, doing his part to help keep things growing until the Church membership grew large enough to sustain its own growth. Many of the branches he served in are now wards; many of the wards, stakes; and there are many, many people throughout the US and Canada, of all religious persuasions, who know, remember and love Avard Anderson. O, that we all could have such a legacy!

A lesser man might have felt pride and self-satisfaction; Dad, in his humility, was concerned about what he saw as his shortcomings and mistakes. He spent the last few months of his life expressing his love and appreciation for those around him and bearing his testimony to his many visitors. At night, lying in bed, he prayed blessings on those he loved and mentally reviewed all he had learned in the temple, wanting to be prepared for what awaited him in the next life.

I have few doubts about who was there to meet Dad when he crossed over: family and friends who have gone on before, descendants yet to come, and — as promised in two separate blessings he received during his last weeks — the Savior Himself. I’m also quite sure that Dad will again be doing there what he did so well here: quietly serving and bearing testimony. As his nephew Mike noted last night, Dad is following the pattern of his life: going ahead to set things up, then sending for Mom and, eventually, the kids. While such a promise as Dad’s — to be met by the Savior — would be tremendous comfort, I will be content if it is Dad who meets me when I pass through to the other side, because I am sure that where I find one, I will find the Other.

— Bruce F. Webster, August 12, 1992, Orem, Utah

A life that touched (and still touches) mine

I never knew Thomas R. (“Tom”) McGetchin personally. Terminally ill with cancer at age 43, he had left his position as Director of the Lunar & Planetary Institute in July of 1979 — just seven months before I started work at LPI — and had died a few months later in October of 1979. But almost all the scientists and staff then at LPI knew him and had been very much affected by both his life and his rather premature death.

When Tom McGetchin left LPI, he and his wife Carle went to Hawaii to stay with their close friends, the McCords, for Tom’s final months of life. Tom kept a journal during this time, and while I was at LPI, I got from my office mate, Caroline, a xeroxed copy of one of his handwritten journal entries. It affected me very much, so much so that I quoted from it at the end of my father’s eulogy nearly 20 years later.

Here’s that journal entry:

[Sunday, July 22
Honolulu – McCords]

Geez Hawaii is a beautiful place and the McCord’s front porch is just one of the good places on this earth; good memories mixed with spectacular views and the kissing of a climate — whatever it’s doing whether sunny or raining — it’s just mellow.

Reading, sleeping, talking and thinking lots — about how short life is regardless of how you cut it, cancer aside. There are a few decades we have which just swim by in the blind procession of days. What matters? From where I sit, I see several really simple and important things.

  • shaping your stone well; that’s your part in civilization
  • loving — other humans matter most
  • taking the next step; it’s always hard

Shaping your stone means quietly doing your job, as well as you can. Your identity will soon be lost to history but your stone, if well shaped and polished will fit into the structure we call civilization and hold its weight, as time sweeps past us and others build upon us. History is full of greed, horror and the worst in mankind — but humaness is built of well shaped loving lives. What we do matters and if there is beauty in the world it is because many quiet souls have shaped their stones well and the cathedral of life is beautiful after all.

Loving matters most — friendships are what make living good and full or empty. Giving and being real, the good and bad, but sharing it all in loving acceptance and without judgment. We are so similar under the skin and we need each other.

Taking the next step, is about the hard part of life. It’s about courage and it does mean trying to do what’s next, even though it’s painful. It also means taking the next step, not the next 10 at once, but the important (essential) thing is to keep moving, even if however slowly it seems.

What death and life mean are beyond knowing for now. I don’t believe we blink out like a light but that could be egotism or false hope. It doesn’t matter for now; for now

there is my stone to chip and polish, souls to love and be truly myself with and always the next awkward step to take.

Tom’s words have stayed with me in the nearly 30 years since I first read them and continue to influence my outlook on life.

This all comes up now because I received an e-mail last night out of the blue from Tom’s sister, Bow. She had googled her brother’s name and ran across my eulogy for my father (posted on one of my other blogs). She wrote me to ask how I had known Tom, which gave me the privilege of explaining — thirty years later, to someone who knew and loved Tom very much — how his insights had affected my life, even though I never knew him personally.

That is a note of life’s grace that I think Tom would have appreciated. ..bruce..