20 things the world needs to remember about my husband (a partial list)1. He was perhaps the kindest man I've ever seen. Once when our cat caught a vole, he held it tenderly, stroking it, and saying "it'll be okay, little buddy," as it died. Then he buried it in our yard. He cried at sad episodes of "ER." He loved "Homicide: Life on the Streets" and "Freaks and Geeks," and "Firefly."
2. He didn't want to be "entombed." He wanted to be cremated, as he was, and kept in a moveable box so that he could go with us wherever my daughter and I moved. We ended up with a marked place because he knew it would matter to his father. Of course, he goes wherever my daughter and I go, anyway.
3. He was never bored. He could find interest in anything. Where most of us have topics or activities that we find inherently boring, he didn't. He could find something to interest him in any topic.
4. He genuinely liked and accepted people. I am more pessimistic and suspicious by nature, and occasionally am prone to fits of disliking someone because they make me uncomfortable or insecure. He was interested in everybody. Except:
5. He hated mean people. People who were gratuitously nasty, or who acted out their psychodramas on hapless bystanders or family members.
6. He was unbelievably brave; not in a showy way, but in an almost scary ability to endure setbacks, bad news, and plain old physical pain. He had bone metastases for at least 2 years and was able to avoid snapping at me or my daughter, even when he was in terrible pain.
7. He loved his friends. He had a group from childhood, and he treated them (and they him) like the best kind of family. They made multiple trips to see him during his illness, took him to the doctor, and were amazing. And now they are amazing to my daughter and me. They are our family, too.
8. He had a fine sense for art and design. He collected antique bike parts, hoping to one day assemble a bike with them. He loved the purity of a form whose function was transparent. He had impeccable taste in shoes, and he favored fine imported leather shoes, and exquisitely patterned silk ties, usually with a sort of subdued retro quality. He bought a suit for our wedding off the rack at a second-hand store, and wore it with expensive Spanish dress shoes.
9. He ironed all of his own clothes, and mine, too. He could also darn socks. And he kept his shoes, and mine, in a state of perfect polish. Now that he is gone, my toes are scuffed.
10. He rescued animals. He couldn't drive by a loose dog without stopping to be sure there was an owner with it. If not, home it came with him.
11. He was witty and incredibly articulate, but willing to be silent for long periods of time. He wrote beautifully, with a spareness and economy I could never equal. He was startlingly original in his prose, and he wrote scintillating little emails.
12. He called up a radio show to give Calvin Trillin a lunch recommendation in our town. He introduced me to Trillin's works, and to those of MFK Fisher.
13. He had beautiful eyes; they were rootbeer-brown, with long, dark, curved eyelashes. And strong hands. He was amazingly skillful at tiny little manual tasks.
14. He read poetry. Derek Walcott. Robert Bringhurst. And bicycle manuals, and treatises on biodiesel, and the works of John McPhee.
15. He listened to Coltrane. Morphine. Elastica. Neko Case.
16. He and his father once won a sailing award as "Most Indefatigable."
17. He made delicious chocolate mousse. Early in our relationship, he used to make rice krispie treats for me while I was at my evening class. Then we'd eat them while watching QVC and mocking the merchandise.
18. He didn't get mad at other people; often, he turned it in on himself.
19. He hated fundamentalists (on any subject), self-righteousness, and cynicism.
20. His mother died before he was six months old.