We have lost our Bruce......

August 24, 1999
It was Monday, July 12, 1999, after Charlie and Pam had left for home, when Bruce went to lunch with his boss, Sam. Whether it was that fateful moment, or something he ordered for lunch that triggered, we will never know, but on that day it was a grim beginning of intensive care in the hospital, visits from us all, prayers, words of encouragement from us, particularly Carol Kay and Patricia who seemed determined to persuade our Bruce (lying there with tubes taped to his body) that he was getting better. I think he spoke his last words to me - so characteristic of his gentle, peace-loving spirit, when he suddenly seemed to come to, looked at me, and said very clearly, “Bob, when you write your columns, please don’t mention anything about my getting food poisoning at So-and-So’s eatery, okay?”I had no idea of what he was getting at but I assured him that his wishes would be granted. Later I realized that this was another of his gentle characteristics - live and let live. I had no idea at the time of the impact of what he had said, for soon he lapsed into unconsciousness, never to return.For days and nights we all were at his bedside, Pat and Carol particularly trying to buoy him up by telling him he was going to be okay...I think all of us, Chuck, Susan, Mom, Trevor, Michael and, above all, Pat, tried to penetrate the wall of consciousness that kept us from reaching our beloved son - for he was just that, an important member of the family.Whether or not the fateful luncheon that day with Sam had anything to do with it, the ultimate verdict was bacterial infection, plus a faulty heart valve and the resulting weakened condition. To us it seemed more like a tornado that suddenly engulfed him and left him comatose - a fate from which he never recovered. Every day and night for a week we were there, all of us at one time or another, whispering words of love and encouragement, patting and stroking him, talking with Dr. Antos, the gentle young doctor in charge, or the lady therapist who seemed to be always there trying to make Bruce comfortable.After several days it became apparent from the neurologist that Bruce had suffered several strokes and his heart valves had been damaged. There was no hope for a by-pass surgery; it might take him away from us instead of saving him. So this became a waiting game, an agony of hopes and disappointments - a giving-up on one hand and a desperate optimism on the other.And so it became a successive drawn-out series of doubts; could he miraculously survive this deadly attack of whatever it was, or would the merciful thing finally boil down to pulling the life-support plug and letting him go to eternal peace?That last option began to be our family’s obsession: why continue the agony for him, if he happened to be in pain or could not reach us in any way? What was to be gained? We pleaded with the doctor, who had finally conceded the odds against Bruce but wanted to get an expert neurologist to make the call. His verdict was a blow: our son could never regain consciousness.Then the painful wind-down began, as he was taken off life support first, then the feeding tube, the oxygen, etc. He seemed to enter a phase of peaceful rest; even his face suddenly seemed calmer and his breathing was slight but normal, we thought. The physical therapist who had attended him from the beginning explained to Norma and me what she had been doing, making him comfortable, checking his vital signs - but telling us also that he would never regain consciousness.After that, it seemed as though our prayers for him had to be directed instead toward a perfect peace for him, no matter how we might suffer the loss. Finally, the end came very quietly, thankfully without pain, as Bruce went to be with his God for eternal rest.Losing him is an agony for us, yet something we must accept even as we accept our own daily lives, and our eventual mortality. Ours has always been an upbeat and happy family, very close and dedicated to each others’ happiness. So now we have to let our Bruce go and remember him for what he was - a kind, warm and modest man who wanted nothing more than to have his family and friends around him. That we were, and have been even to the beautiful outdoor services at Grant Park in Ventura, where John Keefe gave us some wonderful readings especially chosen by Chuck (and some of them read also by Chuck), and a lovely essay written and delivered by Carol Kay. A bagpiper competed quite successfully with this old guy who played one brief hymn, “Nearer, My God, To Thee” on my keyboard-type harmonica.
Among a hundred or more people who came were a large group of Bruce’s fellow workers, all of Bruce’s sisters and his brother, our whole family excepting Roger and Jocelyn, whom we advised against trying to come down in view of their imminent departure for Ireland.We miss him with great hurt in our souls, but we are glad he escaped what might have been a very difficult old age.All of us together love and miss you, dear son, and we will do our best to see that Patricia and her (your) boys Trevor and Michael will have us all nearby for whatever may come to pass in our lives.I guess it is safe to say that, from Mom and me down, this is truly a clan, wonderfully close, fiercely loyal - and that includes all of Bruce’s wonderful family as well. We are so grateful to Ed and Carolyn and Dorothy (hope I haven’t omitted anyone) and those who made this closure possible, and especially meaningful to us all. We will always remember with fondness our dear Bruce; may God rest your soul.Devotedly,Mom and Dad AndrewsJuly 31, 1999(Michael’s 15th birthday)

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