Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bruce Ruckle was a PIMP and a half.

So, my last post.

Over a year ago. Cryptic. Dramitic.
The result of having an uncommonly awesome dad who happens to be  dying.

It's ok. Dad's die. Everyone's does. So did mine.
I didn't post about it because at the time, I was in Florida and everything was crazy and by the time I was home and settled, it just didn't feel timely and I was too emotional.
It was a lot.
So today, it's been a year since the quietest, longest, most beautiful moment of my life. Since I sat to the right of my father's head with my face inches from him and watched the Great Change as his spirit was liberated at last from a body that was too spent by its cancer to hold on to it any longer.
I was glad, in that moment.

I once told one of my stepdaughters, that I wished nothing better for her than that her love for her dad could be as simple and uncomplicated as my love for mine. It's a rare gift to love someone, and not feel one ounce of any kind of bitterness or regret for anything. To feel that they'd never let you down one single time. I always felt confident that my Dad was proud of me. He may have worried for me, but was never disappointed. I never had to wonder where I stood with him. The love I have for my dad is the simplest purest love I have ever experienced.
So, I'm going to tell you all about him. Because as I mentioned in the title of this post, he was a total P-I-M-P. I'm for real. You know how older people tell a lot of the same stories over and over? Sure, he did that. We've all heard, "when I was in the Navy" and " growing up during the war" but then he'd casually throw in a total whammy like,"so I was drag racing on the beach...." or " when I was a Ballroom Dance Instructor in the 60's...." or " so this one time when my first wife and I were professional square dancers on television in the late 50's I accidentally got roped into being a yodeler...." and then you'd be like, "Wha' Happened?" So you never could tune out his stories because you didn't want to miss hearing about this time that he was filming a commercial and they couldn't get him to smile just right and he told them it's because there weren't any brunettes on set and they had to grab one off the street and pay her to stand by the camera so my dad could smile at her.
This guy was seriously the most interesting person I've ever met.
Most of these adventures were behind him when he met and married my mom in the early 70's. In my child-eyes, he was just my Dad. He worked at the Post Office and apparently spent his free time "making eggies for my baby" according to a progress report from my preschool.
He took us to movies. He took us to see Beauty and the Beast no less than 10 times. It was his favorite Disney. He thought the Prince was totally fugly, so whenever they did the big reveal of the Prince he'd shout, "BRING BACK THE BEAST!" I thought it was wonderful.
He was a dead ringer for Santa Claus with his big fluffy beard, rosy cheeks and a charming snap of a twinkle in his eye. He played Santa at the Post Office during the holidays. He'd sit in a chair in the lobby and the kids got to bring their letters to him. He also played Santa for parties and things, making an extra buck here and there for Christmas. It was great because we'd be out places and kids (of all ages) would get excited and run up to him and tell them what they wanted for Christmas. Once, a woman came up to us in the mall, told him her daughter was very sick with luekemia and she thought he was Santa. He went to talk to her and spent a few minutes listening to what she wanted and he told her all about the North Pole and his reindeer. He loved playing Santa. He told me once that his goal every year, was to get at least one kid to believe in Santa for just one more year. The role suited him so well, not so much because he fit the part physically, but because he was a Santa inside. He had a generous spirit.
He spent every Sunday with us, after he and my mom split up in the mid 80's. As adults, we realize his struggle, what he went through to be in our lives and be our Dad. He saved all the money he could after paying his child support to treat us to lunch and take us out when he could. This meant sometimes living with family, or in his car, but he never let us see it. He never said a word against our mother and would not allow us to either.
My father's goodness was repaid in kind. In the 90's he married one beast of an awesome woman. My stepmother, Lynn, who he remained married and happy with until he died. A complete force of nature, she made him happier than we could have ever hoped to see him. We have loved her since the first. He was the most precious person in the lives of his children and she could not have taken better care of him, or treasured him more.
It's been a year since that moment when she and I and my two sisters and brother sat in a ring around him and shared this gift, of being so loved by such a man, that we merited the privilege of witnessing his passage from one realm into another. It was a sacred thing.

My Daddy did not die a rich man. But he died a successful one. As I noted in his eulogy, such people don't die, not really. He is constantly remembered and honored by us. His boots stand on my sister's bookshelf, prominently and lovingly displayed. He lives in a certain twinkle in my own eye. He's alive in the heart of a loving wife that will never stop beating for him, no matter what. None who knew him could forget him- charming, twinkling, big hearted Bruce.