My wife got up to take communion at Tom Bergmann’s funeral at Most Holy Trinity Church the other day, and I must admit I, unshriven as usual, was a bit surprised.
But she reminded me later that she thought of the rite differently, that it had to do for her with bounteous nature and our humble place in it rather than with any pastoral proscriptions or learned behavior.
The next morning, interestingly, I, who had been between books for a while, decided to pick up Helen Vendler’s “Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries,” which my sister had given me for Christmas, to read, and there, on page 17, I met Mary’s kindred soul:
In the name of the Bee —
And of the Butterfly —
And of the Breeze — Amen!
And now I’d like to turn over this column to Max Bergmann, Tom’s young son, who had this to say to everyone there:
“My father was a builder. He built wonderful relationships with his family and friends and he built beautiful objects. One of my fondest memories is of building a bookcase with him after he had noticed all the books strewn around my room. We spent every day over the next couple of weeks in our garage working on this project. I’m sure this was much the way it was when he built his first house with help from his brothers. What I realized then about my father was how meticulous and patient he was, and that everything he created with his hands was a simple masterpiece.”
“He also knew how to put things together in beautiful combinations. His antiques store was an extension of his awesome creative sense. His respect for building extended into every aspect of his life. He formed deep relationships with all of us. He was the most giving, loving, and thoughtful man I have ever known.”
“You could always count on my father. He found in his solitude wisdom, enlightenment, and a height of nderstanding that not many could match. The joy that emanated from him knew no boundaries, and made everyone around him feel loved and happy. His sense of humor reflected his intelligence and enabled him to be a social man in any type of situation.”
“My father’s shoes are impossible to fill because he was such a unique and wonderful person. He cared for us all, and the world around him — more than for himself. Unfortunately, young and old alike will meet with death at one point. I can truly say that he lived a beautiful life.”
“The last time I saw my father I had come to New York purely by chance after being mugged and badly beaten. When my dad saw my face he burst into tears. Our bond was so deep, our connection so strong that just seeing me in that state caused him to feel my pain wholeheartedly.”
“His emotions were so pure and true, his love so boundless, just as our love is for him — boundless as the sea.”