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01/20/2006 Archived Entry: ""Bark" is gone. Friendship remains"


The winds are out of the south, coming up from Madison Valley. There is an innocent and indifferent coldness in those winds. The sky is mottled, part overcast and part blue. Across the gravel street in front of our house a Magpie is busily stabbing the hard ground of the neighbor's garden plot with his beak. Beyond that garden the open fields are interrupted by groves of trees which stand guard over the Jefferson River while hiding the elk and deer. And beyond the river the undulating landswells run up to La Hood canyon at the north end of the Tobacco Root mountains. Beyond that canyon is, are, exists.... I don't know what. I'm just figuring that Bark's soul probably flew off over that way, headin' farther west through that lovely canyon he always liked, maybe to soar over the Pacific Ocean before finding some invisible path to and through the stars.

Outlaw that he always was, he made his escape this morning. They call it Friday, January 20, 2006. I call it the day we lost Bark.

Walter “Bark” Doss – R.I.P.

Bark, the founding webmaster of The Mental Militia and The Claire Files Forums is gone. But friendship and kindness remain in abundance. I can't match Elias's eloquence, and I recommend that you read the entire thread about Bark's dying and death to learn more about the kind of friends and family Bark was blessed with.

I want to write here about some related kindnesses.

You know that Vin Suprynowicz, Debra, and I held an eBay auction to raise funds for Bark's treatment Vin's autographed copy of The Black Arrow sold for an astonishing $865 after many freedom-loving bloggers and others got behind the cause. But that wasn't the end of that tale.

The winner of the auction (who wants to remain anonymous) "rounded up" his payment to $1,000 -- and still added the postage fee, which just makes me smile. And he wrote:

The reason I wanted to help your cause is simply this. When this was a great nation communities, churches, or families came together to help their own during times of need. These groups had a vested interest in truly helping the person. Today, government has taken over the role of caregiver. But the motivations of government are different than those of private individuals . . . government needs to justify its existance by keeping people dependent. There is no incentive to make a person whole. What you and Vin did (and are doing) in helping your friend is good. It is the pinnacle of humanity. And although I don't know any of you personally, I wanted to be a part of it. Thanks for allowing me to participate. Take good care of your friend.

Following the auction, two of the "losing" bidders (and I put it in quotes, because truly not one of these bidders was a loser) donated $100 to Bark's medical fund (as had several other good souls).

Then a week or two later, a package turns up in my mailbox. It's another autographed hardbound copy of The Black Arrow, sent to me by David Codrea. I've never met David. But he was also one of those (non)losing bidders, as well as a supporting blogger. He had two copies of the book and decided to replace the one I'd donated.

That's still not the end of the story. Vin Surpynowicz offered to send autographed books to the first five people who had donated $100 or more to Bark's fund. I've contacted those donors. Four have accepted. I'm still waiting to hear from another -- and if he doesn't accept, I'll offer the book to the next $100+ donor. So the personal generosity surrounding Bark's cause still goes on.

And it goes beyond that. As Sunni Maravillosa observed last week, as she posted a reminder about Bark and Elias, "There's plenty of bad news out in the world -- more than we can fathom without going berserk over it all. Instead, I'm choosing to spread some warmth and caring. I hope you do too, whether to my friends Elias and Bark, or your own."

It's hard to imagine an uglier death than throat cancer. But Bark died surrounded by some of the world's best people. Before Bark went into his terminal decline, Elias had already endured months of being surrounded and crowded in by people, not all of them particularly pleasant. He had had no peace and quiet and was eagerly looking forward to having his house to himself again. Then almost immediately, in came Bark, Barkmother, Barkdaughter, hospice helpers, and a host of friends and well-wishers. And all this at a time when Elias also had to work seven days a week. (He's a jeweler, and the holidays are intense for such.) That went way beyond any duty. Elias should get a medal for Heroism in the Cause of Friendship, First Class.

So as Elias himself might say -- SALUTE, Brother. Salute, Elias. Salute, Basil Fishbone and Iloilo Jones. Salute, Barkdaughter, a young woman who put aside her own life plans so she sleep on the floor beside her dying father. Salute, Barkmother, for patiently enduring what must be the hardest thing in the world, losing your own child. Salute Vin, David, Fran, and all the other people who unhesitatingly gave friendship and more.

And SALUTE, Bark, for making the TCF community possible and for being the kind of friend who attracted such friends.

I wish I'd thought to put it the way Kirsten put it: "Member Number One is Offline."

Posted by Claire @ 04:20 PM CST

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