(This is a re-post from my other blog of a eulogy I wrote on 19 December 2010 for my brother-in-law when he passed on last year.)
And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
When my sister Babylyn Newfield and her children are ready to look back on Bruce Howard Newfield’s life as a businessman, husband and father without too much grieving, their remembering his playful grin is what will probably stand out in their collective memory. That, and the ritualized Sunday breakfast with him at McDonald’s Madrigal Avenue.
Known in the business community for being a tough businessman with a tougher exterior, he brought the words Cartridge World to the country. But it was his being a hands-on father to seven of his kids that made more rounds in his Rotary meetings than did his business acumen: he taught them math, picked them up at sleepovers, went to National Bookstore for their school supplies, drove them to their dentists. “I will try my best at math,” scribbled Bea in the condolences book at Loyola Memorial, enough words that sound a paean to a life lived closely round those he truly loved. “We love you and will miss you, dad,” wrote Jessa and Josh. Facebook is replete with status updates from friends simply thanking him, and former employees expressing regret at their loss.
UB, as he was fondly called by us and by his staff at Cartridge World, was also famously infamous for his linguistic creativity directed at mostly inattentive or simply stupid drivers. Negotiating the traffic in and around Makati was a daily ordeal for him made more so by inconsiderate people who disregard traffic rules, but he compensated by giving them an earful of the most unprintable (and colorful!) words found in the English language. He could still be funny at his most irritated.
A man of simple desires, his idea of fun was reading books he purchased from PowerBooks, National Bookstore or Fully Booked. These he read avidly, sandwiched between watching his favorite television series and doing marathons of past seasons. I used to troop with him and Babylyn to Ruins, to hoard season after season of 24, OC, Desperate Housewives, Prison Break, etc. And yes, my sister recounted, he had finished reading all his books before his passing.
He was considerate to the last, ever mindful of my sister’s comfort. He died in his sleep, taking care not to put her through more nerve-wracking or hand-wringing experiences had his passing been less peaceful. When he turned out the lights one final time even before he was ready for bed (he was, the last night of his life, watching the news) because my sister never could sleep with the lights on, he did it anyway, and graciously too. His last words to her, “You know me, mahal. I’m considerate.”