Bruce played cards-(500) with a group of my Dad's friends once a month. He started as a substitute player, and then became a pretty much a regular. The group meets at various places for brunch, and then goes to someones house to play. They were going to play on July 14th, so my Dad called Bruce several times, and getting no answer, left messages for him on the answering machine. It was really not like Bruce to not return phone calls, so my Dad started to get worried. He called the Twin Lakes Alano Society where Bruce attended meetings. He talked with one of Bruce's friend Harlen (Harley), who had not seen Bruce recently and said he would ask some others if they had seen/heard from Bruce lately. Please keep in mind, this is summer--many people travel, take time off, etc. It was quite likely one person to not have seen my brother, and think that someone else had.
After asking around, it became apparent to Harley, and Bill T., that no one had seen Bruce since the end of June, when several members were at his house to help him paint--he was preparing to sell the place. Harley and Bill decided to do a "health and welfare check". Unfortunately, they found Bruce dead. He was sitting up in his recliner, with head back, as though he went to sleep and never woke. My Dad got a call from the Brooklyn Park Police at around 11:30, Friday, July 13th, to inform him his son was dead... Bruce was 52. My Dad called me at 6:30 the next morning to inform me. I was mad, and still am ticked with him--why did he wait until morning. "Well, I knew I wouldn't sleep, and didn't want to disturb yours..." sheesh!
Anyhow, Bruce's body was 'significantly decomposed.' The Medical Examiner had to use fingerprints for a positive identification. It is now thought he died around 7/1; although he put 7/13/07 on the death certificates. And I used that date on the funeral brochures I made up--because at that time, we didn't know the actual day-- and to our minds, he lived until my Dad got the phone call.
Bruce had several health problems. When he was 40, he had double coronary bypass and aortic valve replacement surgery. He always struggled with high cholesterol. Although he was successful in his battle against drugs and alcohol, he was never able to completely stop smoking. A few years ago he had a blockage in ah, I think it was a groin region artery if memory serves (which it may not!). Then last September, he was at work one day and he leaned over to pick up a pencil from the floor, and woke up in the emergency room at a local hospital. Tests showed he had 90 percent blockage in one of his carotid (neck) arteries. He had surgery to open and insert a stent there.
He had also was experiencing progressing muscular weakness in his thighs/legs. He had a lot of tests, and a biopsy was done on muscle tissue from one thigh early last Spring. No cause was found. The doctor called it 'Idiopathic Myopia'--a catch-all phrase which basically means 'muscular loss due to unknown origins.
On Sunday, July 15th, the Old Testament reading at church was from Leviticus 18:1-5, 19:9-18 (ESV). My attention was taken by verses 19:9-10: When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to the edges, neither shall you gather the gleanings after you harvest. And you shall not strip you vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner. I am the Lord your God. I wrote in the margins of the bulletin (a habit from when I had to take sermon notes for Confirmation class, many years ago): When God reaps, he does not strip us bare- he leaves gleanings for us-- thoughts and memories of our loved one. He leaves gleanings for the poor, and those who are still sojourning--we are those who still travel this weary world. He as 'reaped' Bruce, and taken him home. Our memories of our son, brother and friend- are the gleanings.