It is with acute sadness that I tell you my beloved husband Dr. Bruce Scott Brown (class of 1952) died in my arms on October 18, 2015. He’d had a cancerous kidney removed exactly one year earlier, and I thought we were home free, though probably he knew otherwise. That accursed disease lurks. Four months later other smaller cancers showed up on X-ray, and Bruce began chemotherapy. But in the end, it was pulmonary fibrosis that took his life. To have the one person you love most in the world die in your arms in his hospital bed is sad beyond the telling.
Bruce and I were married when we were but twenty-one years old. Our wedding pictures show two young people, madly in love, clutching each other’s hand as we, beaming, emerged from the Church. We were eighteen when we met. It was love at first sight. We loved each other so much for so long. Well, he was a wonderful guy.
After Williston, Bruce was drafted into the Army in the middle of his sophomore year at Syracuse University. After a year’s special training, he was to be sent to Germany. That’s when we got married. My Dad arranged passage for me on the S.S. United States so I could join him. At dusk, when the ship arrived at Bremerhaven, I spied a lone person on the pier huddled up against the cold. It was Bruce. He was dressed in a hodgepodge of borrowed clothing. He hated the Army so much, he would not greet me in uniform.
When I cleared customs, and we were together again, he took me to where we would spend the night. The only room he could find at the last minute was upstairs over a bar. If we stood on our bed and opened the tiny window above it, cigarette smoke just poured in from below. The one bathroom was down the hall. Women went in and out of it all night long. Years later, innocents that we were, it occurred to us he had booked a room in a whorehouse.
We lived in Germany for one year, traveled to ten countries. That was 1955. When we returned home, and he was discharged, Bruce decided to repeat his sophomore year at Syracuse University, and went on to graduate with honors. We lived in Married Students‘ Housing in those days, had our first child, a son Chris. Then we moved to Rochester, NY where we still live. Bruce had been accepted at the University of Rochester Medical School, and he achieved his M.D. in 1962. We had by then a baby daughter, Beth, later a second son, Oliver. After Bruce was handed his medical degree at graduation and I watched him shake hands with the presenter, I was teary all day. It was because I had a new name: Mrs. Dr. Bruce Brown. And the toughest years were over.
Bruce loved Pathology. For forty years he was Director of Pathology at The Genesee Hospital in Rochester, now boarded up. He held this position until he retired, yet continued to work part time at another hospital until he decided he wanted to play tennis more than he wanted to look through a microscope.
Bruce was generous, kind, honest, truthful, honorable, and loving. In fact, after he died, and I had arranged not a funeral but a “Remembrance” at the University of Rochester Chapel, the building was packed with friends, some of whom had come hundreds of miles just to say into the microphone what they had loved about Bruce. We laughed, we sighed, we wept salt tears. It was two and a half hours before the last person spoke, a joyous celebration of a fine man’s life.
It will be a long time before I come to terms with losing Bruce — if I ever do. On reflection, though, I realize he and I were blessed all our lives together. We worked hard, we achieved our goals, we raised three fine, loving children, and have three fine, loving grandchildren. We had a good life, a fine life, together.
I often have said, “You get back what you give in Life.” Bruce gave of himself to all who knew him. Everybody loved him. He was a Prince among men, a loving husband, adored by his children, and by me. He was the Love of my Life.
For you who did know him, keep his smiling face in your mind’s eye. You, I, were privileged to have known such a man.