Friday Firesmith (on a Wednesday)

Note: B&P Headquarters here: We’re still trying to figure out if/how B&P continues… Here’s one we missed getting out at the normal time.

When Debi died in April of last year, and yes, it is already last year, I had to deal with Death on a personal level. How personal, some of you can imagine, some of you cannot, and some of you will, most certainly. Her brother and I sat down at the kitchen table and created a strategy for what needed to be done, and who would do it, and when. Sheets and pillowcases had to be washed more often now, food had to be prepared, and medication given. 

And we would sit at the table, he and I, and for the first month, she would be there with us, and then she wasn’t able to sit in a chair anymore. “Do you know who I am?” I would ask, and she would smile, and tell me my name, then there came a time she would just smile. After she stopped smiling, I knew she was gone. 

We had conversations about Death, and what to do with what was left, and then those conversations ended, too. 

The last month we were just keeping the systems operating, the treatments ended, likely gone on too long, and the waiting began. Visitors came in, had one sided conversations, and they asked one question: When? And I would tell them what the doctors, and team of doctors, the whole of knowledge that kept the body living, and I would tell people what they said. 

The truth was I knew. I knew when she was going to leave because I knew the woman. I remember the way she turned her head to look at me, to say something important, a slight toss of her hair, and the way her shoulders set. All of that was gone, and everything else was, too. No one lived there anymore, and life cannot exist without some machinery to keep the body going if the spirit has already gone. 

The day she died, I called her son, but her brother was the first person to arrive. There was an internal debate as to what to say. “She’s gone” was what I had. He made an odd noise, and told me he was on the way. Hospice arrived, and after a few minutes, I left, knowing as soon as I stepped out of her bedroom I would never see her again.

I’m lucky to have had that time. We held hands, talked, shared meals, laughed about the funny things that had happened in those two years we were in love, and we talked about what was going to happen. I’m lucky to have been able to make peace with the process of dying. 

We lost Jon suddenly, instantly, and I never got to tell him how grateful I was, and am, for what he had done for me, and for having the partnership in writing we had. I never got to have a conversation about the end, or how he wanted to be remembered, and what for. 

I’m sorry we never had a chance to say goodbye. And that feeling is never going to leave me, or anyone else who cared about Jon. 

Take Care,

Mike

A Modern-Day Explorer – The Obituary

Jon (Jonco), 73, died December 28, 2021.

He was the son of the late Benjamin and Ruth. He was preceded in death by his nieces; Melissa and Renee, and his grandbaby Samantha. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Pat, son Dave (Staci), daughter Kris (Seth), brother Paul (Janis) sister-in-law Gail (Mike), as well as his grandchildren; Renly (Melanie), Seth (Sarah), Vince (Mady), and Logan (Joe). He was also loved by many nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family, friends, and more.

Jon and wife, Pat, owned a series of small grocery stores in St. Louis City for 40 years. He always had a passion for computers and any sort of tech, and upgrading to the latest and greatest. He was a people person and loved communicating, from starting his own newspaper as a child to building web-sites, to writing blogs that are viewed worldwide. He was a loyal, long-time member of the Brotherhood of Gluttons and loved getting together with his Glutton friends. He was a father figure and mentor to many – always willing to lend an ear and give the most open-minded advice he could, even if it wasn’t what you wanted or expected. He loved his dog, Buster. He especially loved getting together with family and playing games.

He and Pat visited 48 states together, most notably an Alaska cruise for their 50th anniversary. He loved all things to do with St. Louis, and they had many dates there. He was a modern-day explorer – searching and scouring the web for entertaining bits and pieces to share with his thousands of blog followers. He celebrated talent in all forms. He was extremely creative, smart, witty, and loved being behind a camera or microphone. He was a story teller, a eulogy giver, a trivia master, a foster parent, a pro shopper, a videographer, a movie lover and movie maker, a magic enthusiast, an Elvis fan, a dinner group member, a photo-bomber, a drone pilot, an athletic supporter, a teacher, a learner, an inventor, a thinker and a consumer of all parts of life. He loved adventure; flying, skydiving, hot air balloon riding, scuba diving, motorcycling, and driving his Tesla. Above all, he was a humorist – he looked for the funny in everyday life.

His list of life advice for others (in his own words): “Find things to laugh about. Spend time with family and friends. Don’t let someone ruin your day. Treat people the way you want to be treated. How you react to things that happen in life is much more important than the things that happen. Practice random acts of kindness. Pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant drive-thru. Remember that you’re not always right and they’re not always wrong; people say things from their own perspective.”

Jon supported many causes and especially those causes that were important to his friends and family, so in that regard – any donations should be directed to your local charity of choice.

Friday Firesmith: This is the hardest thing I have ever had to write…

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. 

A dog sitting in the grass

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Take Care,

Mike

End of an Era

We are very saddened to report that our dad, Jonco, has passed away tonight. Mom came home yesterday from work and found him unresponsive and with a head injury. He had a major brain bleed from a bad fall. He was ambulanced to a local hospital where they had to put him on life support. Mom and us kids were able to be with him. He ended up in hospice for an hour or two and died peacefully this evening with us all around him.

Thanks for being a friend to dad in whatever capacity you were. If you are reading this we know you are a friend and hope that you take comfort in knowing that he appreciated all of your support over the many, many years of running these blogs. We know for a fact that he considered you all part of his extended family.

As you may know, he did some pre-posting, by setting up posts in advance – so you are sure to see some future posts, that he had planned – we decided to leave them as he had planned them.

We would love it if you comment with a favorite memory of him, whether it’s a personal memory.. or of how these blogs have positively affected you.

Love to all – take a moment and hug each other, and crack open a beer and make a toast to our dad – Jonco.

Dave and Kris

and Pat