Dad had several groups that he considered family; one was his Bits and Pieces family – of course! He dedicated hours upon hours to ‘scour the web’ so you didn’t have to. He joked about how it was his job – but he truly loved doing it.
One Bits and Pieces reader said Dad ‘was larger than life’ and I’ve been thinking about that for a while now. I think it’s not that HE was larger than life.. it’s that he was so excited and interested by life.. by people and the things they do.. excited by the things he saw – that he felt compelled to share what he found. He wanted you, the readers, to be excited by the things he found too.
And you did. Some of you followed him for years and years, checking in each and every day to see what else he had found to entertain both himself and you.
He hosted the Big Ass BBQ where several of you came to gather here in St. Louis over 10 years ago. He met several of you along the way on various trips, even if it was just for a quick lunch during the drive to another destination. He absolutely LOVED that. Thank YOU for that… for giving my dad the gift of your friendship.
The farthest traveling people who came to the celebration were from Ohio and Georgia – and of course they were B’NP’ers. <3
On September 30, 2011, just over a decade ago, “Going to Pot” the first Friday Firesmith appeared. I was guided to “Bits and Pieces” by a friend of mine who read it first thing every morning, to set the mood of the day, and I had been around for a while before I became part of the activity.
The first time Jon and I traded emails I had written him to say thanks for the site. I knew how much work went into making something like that happen, and he replied that he enjoyed it, and we talked about the process of what he posted and why. Jon was one of the very few personalities who were actually who they appeared to be. I had lunch with Jon and his wife many years ago, as they were traveling through the state. Both Jon and his wife seemed to ease into a conversation with anyone, warm, friendly, pleasant to be around, nice to waitstaff, and full of stories of being on the road, in one manner or another. We always talked about doing it again, and had not the plague reared its ugly head, I would have made it to Vegas.
Most of you who have been around for a long time remember the puppy I found back in 2009. He wasn’t in as bad shape as he might have been for a stray, but Lucas became my dog, and as a Weimaraner, Lucas was photogenic and beautiful. Full of life, and sometimes full of mischief, Lucas was fun to write about. In October of 2013, I found a lump on Lucas’ on the gum his right canine tooth. The first vet I went to see told me it was cancer, and all we could do was go home and wait for Lucas to die. After a week of despair, I decided to go to another vet. He told they could operate, but it would take thousands of dollars, and it had to be upfront. I maxed out credit cards and wrote a large check. I was getting ready to sell my truck, refinance my house, and pick up a second job.
Jon called me. He had been following the story on my blog, and Jon said he wanted to launch a crowd fund from Bits and Pieces. To make a long story short, Jon saved my house, my truck, and from abject poverty. Jon, and many of the people who are reading this right now, donated money for Lucas the Loki Mutt, and for that I will always be grateful, more grateful than I will ever be able to express, and I will never forget it.
Jon introduced me to friends I might have never met. People I have met in person now. The crowd fund sent people to me I would never get to meet, but the house in which I’m writing this right now belongs to a woman I met through that effort, and that may yet to prove to be the most interesting story that comes of Jon’s efforts in my life.
Jon united people and created a world in which laughter was the currency, and off the wall videos and photos was the geography. Jon brought joy into the lives of people who needed it, and he created a community of friends. He was more than some random guy running a website, he was human, he was someone you could talk to, and he was my friend. I never argued with Jon if he wanted to edit out a post, or simply delete it. That happened once in ten years, and I didn’t blink an eye. Jon was a man I trusted. I trusted his vision and insight more than I trusted my own.
In my life, I’ve never known anyone like Jon, ever. A singular personality in the world where so many are not, Jon was the real deal. He was who he appeared to be, and he was one of the best human beings I have ever met in my life.
This is goodbye, Jon. The world is a lesser place for you moving on, and I am diminished for the loss. But everyone who ever knew you was a better person for it, and whatever greets you on the other side, that place too, will become better. Because in the end, that was what you did best, is make the world a better place.
Talented artist and long time B&P reader and contributor Mark W, aka MCW, has a website with some of his paintings. Most of the painting are for sale and are really good. Here’s an example: Click to enlarge.
A group of Georgians met up with DJ on Tuesday evening just outside of Atlanta, as he was on his return trip from visiting his mom in Florida.
From left to right: DJ, Richard, Ariane, Gary and the infamous Infidel. A nice looking group of good folks, but I gotta say the one at the back left is by far the best looking of the bunch. Click image to enlarge.
I think it’s pretty cool that people like this all got together and became friends all because of a little website called Bits and Pieces. It makes my little heart proud to know that people from all over the world of different nationalities, races and faiths have come to know one another, support one another, laugh and cry with one another and become good friends, perhaps life-long friends through our little neighborhood.
I’m sure B&P readers are familiar with Mike Firesmith and know of his love for animals, especially the ones he has. His dog Lucas has a bad tumor or his face that will kill him in just a few months if nothing is done. Lucas will undergo surgery on Tuesday at the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital in Gainesville in a bid to try to save his life.
You can read about Mike’s decision to opt for the surgery here. You can also make a donation on that page to help defray what are sure to be substantial medical bills.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mike and Lucas during this trying time.