I find that it is hard picking which stories to tell on a given day; we were warmly
set off on our journey by Rob and Robin in Deerfield, MA. They graciously provided
us food, shelter, and access to a great number of amenities of which the most
important were their kindness and good company. We headed off for a short day's
drive to Troy, NY where I met the Bruce's parents.
Brian Bayly and Helen Bailey Bayly were our hosts, and we arrived in time for a
late lunch and an early afternoon tea. Then the stories began, interlaced with a
tour of the house, a walk around the grounds, lunch, tea, tea again; a continuous
stream of humorous anecdotes, witticisms, family history, local politics and recent
adventures were passed along. Helen told of how she met Brian when a friend told
her she had to come to a party. "Why" Helen asked, and her friend told her how
funny she thought it would be to introduce Mr. Bayly to Ms. Bailey. Helen didn't
think the homophone was all that funny, but we are all better off because she was
enticed to go (because the food was supposed to be good). It may be that Bruce's
very existence came into being because of the enticement of good food.
While being given a tour of the house, I was reintroduced to one of the most
powerful forces in the universe, but also one of the most gentle. Helen made
sure I went exactly where she was guiding me without having to stop her train of
thought by simply placing her hand on my arm and pulling me there. Her comfortable
confidence and motherly manner made me see how she had acquired so many adventures.
I cannot say her “can do” spirit was passed on to Bruce, because she clearly still
has it, but Bruce has kept the road show running often on his confidence that it
will succeed and solutions to all problems will be found. One story that I must
pass along is one where Bruce was a post-doc in NY. He was headed to his first job interview at Brown University. After being introduced by the head of the
department and just about to give his first job talk, a voice called out from the back.
"Hi, Brucie!" Phillip, Bruce's brother, had found about the talk and came up to watch; according to Bruce most of the audience members were Phillip's friends. Bruce tells the story with his usual entertaining flair, but it is a time when he confesses to being flustered. Everyone who knows Bruce knows he easily adapts to adversity and moves on, but it is great to know that it is a learned skill, and we can all learn to deal with adversity as happily as Bruce does. Along our journey I got to meet Rachel and Fiona, sisters to Bruce, and both always called him Brucie. Then on our arrival to the house, Bruce sang out "Hellooo, is anybody there?" Helen's lyrical reply was one I cannot remember, but "Brucie" was in it.
The evening proceeded with more stories and a great local restaurant Garlic Lover's Quarter where we were served Middle Eastern cuisine, which was enjoyed and shared
around. Then Brian said we must try the "something Bomba" -- no one could remember
the dessert’s first name. It was a frozen passion fruit concoction that we ordered
one of with four spoons.
There is another great story about getting the bus up the nearly mile-long driveway
and fallen trees and power lines and transformers and possibly about lies of
omission, but I shall wait until Bruce and I can collaborate to remember as many of
the details as possible and maybe decide which details to leave out.