My mother, Kathy Bruce, was found deceased in her apartment on Friday March 1st, 2019.
She was an amazing human. I know you’re supposed to say that but I’m not just saying that.
She flipped houses before it was cool. Spending her days taking down walls, putting them back up, and painting them. She taught herself to pour ceramics using a kiln she kept in her home. She was the manager and owner of a house turned apartments. She read tarot for the Psychic Friends Network. She was a teacher and community leader for some practicing Wicca in the Denver area. Mostly all at the same time, a true queen of the side hustle.
She counseled battered women in the greater Denver metropolitan area. She administered multiple online communities, some of which she created herself. A hardcore naturalist and observer of the world, fascinated and giddy by things she had not seen or done before, even late in life.
What struck me most about mom though was, as she got older, she took on more and more the look and feel of Janis Joplin captured in old news reels and interviews, complete with a cackling laugh that turned the soul.
Her big-brim hats flopping up and down revealing her big-rim, rose-colored glasses. Her brightly colored clothes draped over her like a series of cloaks waving around as if she were underwater at times. She dyed her hair bright red but subtle enough so she didn’t look like a clown.
She was always playing with something. Learning something. Reading something. Experimenting with something. Food was probably my favorite as a kid. Dissecting and learning about squids, before cooking and eating them, for example.
She had her moments and days, like we all do. For me, however, I will always remember being related to Janis Joplin’s doppelgänger.
Many will sing the blues at the loss and mom will be here, in spirit, pullin’ her harpoon from her dirty red bandana, playin’ soft. Joplin’s album Pearl was released after her death and was the first to hit the Billboard charts, at number one, for nine weeks, and went quadruple platinum. I don’t know if a bang like that is prepared for mom or if she would have preferred to only live on in the hearts and minds of those she impacted.
I do know, I am forever changed for having known, experienced, and interacted with her.
I also know I’m not alone. Thank you, mom.
At this point, I’m reminded of the final recording of Janis’s life, which is also on Pearl. It’s an a cappella piece entitled Mercedes Benz. Janis closes it with a smile you can hear, filling the room with a quick, cackling laugh preceded simply with a jovial, “That’s it.”