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Welcome

August 1, 2022
Bruce on the right, with John Callahan

Bruce Sinclair Swasey taught me the power of welcome. I had an inkling before, of course, but Bruce was a real sensei of the art, wielding his skills with grace and sincerity.

Bruce was what you might describe as a charming old gent. He favored baggy pants, suspenders and golf caps. He was always studying something. He spoke terrible Spanish and Korean with enthusiasm and conviction, deploying it on hapless busboys and customer service representatives. He often stayed up all night in a house that was festooned with papers and notecards, working on advanced math problems he created for himself. He had a roving, curious mind.

He had been in the military, he had been an engineer, but Bruce’s real talent lay in making people feel welcome.

He belonged to six or eight Toastmasters groups at a time, and he was the unofficial greeter. He made sure each new person that walked through the door felt like they were in the right place.

He had studied techniques for remembering people’s names. He told me to say the person’s name three times when you first met them, then mentally write their name on their forehead. He rarely forgot anyone.

He remembered details about people – relations, jobs, anniversaries, health issues. If you got to know him well, you could expect to begin receiving Bruce Mail – big envelopes of articles, poems and writings that reminded him of you. I had a file in my cabinet simply labeled “Bruce” for all of these missives.

I saw Bruce angry once in all my years of friendship with him. He brought a friend to Toastmasters and no one greeted the friend. We heard about it at the end of the evening, his face red and his words sharp. He couldn’t believe we were so rude, and he was right.

Bruce’s gift to the world was a friendly face saying “There you are!” when we came through the door. Isn’t that what every human wants – someone to be glad when they are there?

Bruce passed away some years back, but I think of him daily. I try to honor his memory by being the one who welcomes others, and I imagine that there are many others doing that as well, all because of the example Bruce set. He made my life better by welcoming me, but he continues to make it better when I welcome others, because seeing others happy makes me happy, too.

We could all do with a little more welcome. I challenge you to be like Bruce and welcome someone this week.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2022 15:11

    I always will remember you as being so welcoming and quick to offer your stapler for a photo! 🙂 Bruce sounds like he was a real true light in this world.

    • August 2, 2022 11:26

      Thank you. I loved meeting you and getting to hang out a bit. Yes, Bruce was a special person that continues to be important in my life. Hug.

  2. August 1, 2022 18:11

    This is an uplifting post. Anybody can be welcoming. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • August 2, 2022 11:25

      Thank you for reading! I appreciate that you stopped by.

  3. August 2, 2022 16:14

    *emerges from hidey hole*

    Welcome to the PNW, Sue!

    *retreats to hidey hole*

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