From The Desk Of Clarence Bass
Remembering My Father
It has been over 30 years since I last read through Dad’s Funeral book. Carol was moving some things around in our garage and came on Grandma Bass’s cedar chest containing my Grandfather Bass’s funeral book along with those of my parents.
I pored over Grandfather Bass's book and was reminded of all the wonderful things said about him when his life was ended prematurely in a car accident. The outpouring of respect came from all over, including the Governor. He was loved and revered by his patients and people all over northern New Mexico. I believe it’s fair to say that he was the most prominent person in the communities where he practiced medicine and devoted his time and energy for 30 years. The newspaper piece reporting his passing termed him "a great man."
Made me wonder how Dad’s funeral book would compare. The more I dug into his book the more pleased and proud I became.
The first thing I noticed was page after page of relatives and friends who signed his book. I knew many of them but many more I didn’t recognize. His receptionist and office manager was the first to sign. She kept him company and did what he needed to have done until the very end. She found him when he suffered the stroke that eventually killed him. I believe she loved him in a platonic way, staying with him when he was no longer seeing patients. (Mom was in a nursing home.)
The Pallbearers were perfectly balanced: his real estate agent and advisor for many years and probably his best friend; another friend who sold him many high performance cars and called him The Bear; the skilled and loyal lab technician in his office for many years; his two grandsons; and his age group cousins who ran Eagle Nest Lake for many years. One was majority leader in our State Senate during his final term. (I visited the legislature with my UNM Government classmates and witnessed him in action; no memory of the issue, but he was the only one to vote a resounding “No.”)
Couldn’t have been a more fitting group of Bearers.
The letters of condolence were many and moving. A niece who stayed with Grandma Bass while she was going to law school wrote how much fun he was to be around when he came for Sunday dinner visits. Frankly, I was only vaguely aware that he made a habit of having Sunday dinner with his mother. He saw to it that she was taken care of during her half century as a widow. I never heard her complain even once. Dad moved her to Albuquerque, purchased two homes for her (one in the same block as his office and the other around the corner from our where we lived), and helped when she ran out of money.
The other note that really caught my eye was from a New Mexico Supreme Court Justice, who wrote that he “was one of the many, many persons who held him in the highest regard.”
Dad touched people in many ways. Patients said that he made them feel better by simply talking to them. I believe many of the signatures in his funeral book came from those patients.
So, I’m happy to say that Dad did a good job living up to his father’s sterling example. He did it his way, and he did it well.
I wrote a tribute to him in my column in Muscle & Fitness when he died and profiled him first among the “Take Charge People” in my last book. “Gone for 26 years, he still gives me strength,” I wrote.
Finally, I read several stacks of letters he wrote to my mother during WW2. Most were from a hospital ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. She kept them in a safe deposit box, every stack carefully bound with string.
My mother as a young women. She was beautiful.
Every letter begins with Darling, Sweetheart or other loving words and ends by telling her how beautiful and wonderful she is and how much he misses her and loves and adores her. No wonder she kept them locked up in a bank.
I had no idea he could be so romantic. (He always claimed that he couldn’t write a good letter.)
It brought tears to my eyes to think of my mother and father at that stage of their relationship.
I believe this photo was taken by my grandfather when he and my grandmother were in Kentucky to meet the soon-to-be bride.
Dad went to the same medical school as his father and met my mother there.
Looks like she's pulling on his tie, but it's just the wind blowing.
PS: I also found a letter he wrote to me. I was seven.
Daddy has been thinking of you a lot and wondering how you are doing. We stopped in neutral waters for engine repairs. Many of the soldiers went swimming. The lookout sighted several large sharks coming at a great clip looking for a few arms and legs to eat. The swimming was terminated in a hurry.
Weather has been windy but not too bad.
We sighted a 3 masted schooner yesterday. Three large sails. First large sailing vessel we have seen. Looked like ancient times.
Write to Daddy soon.
(He could write a pretty darn good letter after all. Carol framed it and I've placed it on my bedside table.)
This stylish clipping appeared in the Louisville newspaper shortly after my parents were married. The caption noted that my father was senior interne and my mother was a private duty nurse. It also said that my father was the nephew of a widely-known Louisville specialist.
October 1, 2018
Ripped Enterprises, P.O. Box 51236, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87181-1236
Copyright © 2018 Clarence and Carol Bass. All rights reserved.