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Saturday, March 01, 2014

How to Tie a Tie: A Non-Requiem Requiem



Leave the top button of your collar unbuttoned for now. Wrap the tie around the back of your neck, inside the collar, with the seam inward. Adjust it so that that the wide end hangs about 6” below your beltline (I’m assuming that if you’re going to wear a tie, you’re also wearing pants).

The Father of Bruck (FOB) passed away on September 13, 2013, after a protracted battle with cancer, at age 77. I could say he put up a good fight, but what else is he going to do? At any rate, it seemed like he spent more time contending with the insurance and medical establishment than with the disease. I believe the doctors did all they could, probably adding a couple years to his life, but in the end the disease prevailed.

I’ve had a pretty good life, and I attribute this in no small part to the FOB’s guidance, example, support, and encouragement. I am blessed to have had him as a father, and (just about) all who knew him would agree that he had a positive influence on them. If you measure wealth, as he did, by the number of friends you have, the standing-room-only crowd at his funeral attested that he lived and died a truly rich man.

Cross the wide end over the narrow end, and then wrap it around the narrow end from behind. Then from the front, pass the wide end through the V created by crossing the wide and narrow ends. This is one half of the knot. BTW, what we’re learning here is the knot known as the “Double Windsor.” I don’t know how to tie any other types of tie knots, so you won’t be learning about them here.

VOBNS readers are familiar with the FOB’s sailing exploits on Lake Superior, but for reference, here’s a link to some previous dispatches you may wish to review:


By themselves, these would produce a substantially incomplete biography. But they do serve as a metaphor for his true orientation, which is an attitude of utter fearlessness coupled with an indomitable desire to get the best out of everything in life. He applied this to all of his various spheres of influence: family, church, professional life, social circles, and community involvement. And that, I believe, is his true legacy – he was a guy that you didn’t just make an acquaintance with. If you knew him, he had a profound influence on you, and quite possibly vice-versa. Either that or you never met him.

To make the other half of the Double Windsor, move the wide end over the knot to the other side, then wrap it around back, then through the V so it’s hanging straight down in front. You’re almost there!

The Bible doesn’t give what I would consider comprehensive information on exactly what happens to the soul after you die. There is of course the clear indication that those who reject God and live selfish lives will start suffering some kind of torment right away, while those who have faith in Him and live accordingly will be comforted. Clearly the FOB falls into the latter category, but other than that, who knows? I never was comfortable with mourners, or those who are attempting to comfort mourners, saying things like, “I bet he’s up there looking down at us right now and smiling.” I like to think that, unbound from the earthly shackles of space and time, he’s probably watching something a little more interesting like the Battle of Hastings or old Red Wings games with Gordie Howe and the Production Line.


To complete the knot, pass the wide end through the horizontal loop that you just created and pull it all the way through. You may wish to tighten it up a bit by holding the knot and pulling down gently on the wide end, and tugging on other parts of the tie as necessary to make it look like something Donald Trump wouldn’t fire you for. Now you can button your top button and snug the knot up to your neck while holding the narrow end down. If you’ve done everything right, the tip of the tie should be just touching your belt buckle. If not, take it apart and start over.

The FOB taught me how to tie a tie, several times in fact. I finally got it down after a few years of dressing for success in my various engineering positions. The things he taught me are of course innumerable, and if you’ve made it this far into today’s dispatch, I’m sure I’d lose you if I attempted to produce such a list. But aside from such things as tying a tie, changing a faucet washer, and how to strike up conversations with total strangers, I like to think I’ve inherited at least some of his fearlessness, zeal for life, and love of people. Before he died, but more so after, in various situations I have found myself thinking, that’s how Dad would have done it, or, that’s what Dad would have thought. I believe that for those whose lives he touched, and who also feel this way, through us he lives on.

Anyone want to buy a sailboat?

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